Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill teamed-up two years ago for the big screen revival of the 80s TV series “21 Jump Street”, which featured loads of action, laughs, and even a Johnny Depp cameo. That film was so successful that directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (who began 2014 with “The LEGO Movie”) decided to come back for another round with the equally entertaining “22 Jump Street”.
Reprising their roles as Jenko and Schmidt, Tatum and Hill waste no time setting out to prove that they may just be the best comedy pairing in Hollywood today. The winning chemistry, timing and charm these two have seems effortless. “22” begins where “21” left off. In fact the film starts with a tongue-in-cheek recap of the “previous episode” – clips from the original film. This is the first of dozens of clever “inside jokes”, that come so quickly you have to make sure you don’t miss any.
Following an undercover mission that goes terribly wrong, Deputy Chief Hardy (“Parks and Rec”‘s Nick Offerman) assigns Jenko and Schmidt back to the Jump Street program and to a similar case, in the hopes of getting the same successful results as he did the first time. The only problem is, since the Koreans bought their church back, operation headquarters have been moved across the street to 22 Jump Street.
Captain Dickson (played by Ice Cube, who gets much more screen time in this sequel) also thinks that the two cops are only good at one thing – going undercover at schools. So this time he sends them, not to high school, but to college, to pose as students and find the source of a new killer drug that’s spreading all over campus. This, intentionally of course, is the same lame plot as the first film. And with this mission in the hands of these two, we know things are quickly going to get wildly out of control.
“22 Jump Street” is jam-packed with jokes and gags. Like The Muppets did earlier this year in their caper sequel, “Muppets Most Wanted”, many of the lines and inside references make fun of the old TV show and sequels in general, including the idea of basically re-doing the same movie over again in order to make more money. This smartly penned script allows us to be in on the joke from the beginning.
As I mentioned before, you’ve got to be on your toes. At one point Jenko comes-up with an idea of working as Secret Service agents for the President, which was the goal of Tatum’s character in last year’s “White House Down”. And in another scene, Schmidt refers to Dickson’s fancy new office as a “Cube of Ice”. If you miss anything, don’t worry, there’s another funny crack coming in the next 30 seconds. But “22” doesn’t get all its laughs from dialogue. The film is filled with hysterical situations and outrageous stunts – many playing off Jenko’s impressive physical skills and Schmidt’s…not-so impressive physical skills.
But above all, this is a relationship story. Once again, the friendship of these two partners is put to the test. And the sincerity in which Hill and Tatum play-up this element is another source of big laughs.
At a tad under two hours, “22 Jump Street” is too long, with some of the situations extending well past their breaking point. But that’s usually the case with R-rated, over-the-top comedies. Clearly Lord and Miller gave Tatum and Hill plenty of freedom in their scenes, and they throw a lot at the screen. Thankfully, most of it sticks. Credit the directors for one major surprise midway through the film that results in the two of the funniest scenes in the film.
And the competition for the best closing credits of 2014 is likely over, thanks to a hilarious montage which teases “23 Jump Street”…and beyond!
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “22 Jump Street” gets a very solid B.