22 Jump Street
Dir: Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Peter Stormare
From Columbia Pictures
Sequels, especially to great first films, are difficult to accomplish effectively. Creating new conflicts, coming up with fresh comedy, or allowing the characters to change are all reasons for failed second films. The team behind “22 Jump Street” ignored these suggested sequel stumbles, instead making a completely self-aware and consistently self-referential film that indulged in the “why mess with a good thing” sentiment.
The undercover team of Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) are assigned with infiltrating a university and bringing down the organized drug dealings. They again pose as brothers each working into different social groups, Jenko becomes fast friends with the star of the football team Zook (Wyatt Russell) while Schmidt finds himself separated from his partner and instead meeting an art major named Maya (Amber Stevens). The partners find themselves in a broken relationship of sorts and not one step closer towards solving their case.
The winning chemistry between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum kept the film funny and interesting as it began to falter throughout. Even though the jokes between the two weren’t much different than the comedy in the first, the rapid-fire banter of the two, like during a drug-induced stakeout or the deadpan emotion when participating in a hilarious couples therapy scene, made the repetition have grinning charm. The two actors also handled the physical comedy well, playing to their respective physical attributes in chase and fight scenes that found Channing Tatum in full action hero maneuvers while Jonah Hill reservedly favored the stairs instead of jumping off buildings like his counterpart.
From the start of the film there was a consistent reminder, blatantly so, that this was a sequel and nothing was going to change. A few characters even forwardly predicted plot details and character changes familiar in these films. This self-nodding joke to the perpetual staleness of sequels was initially quite funny. In one instance the partners, referring to the location of their new headquarters at 22 Jumpstreet, address the construction of another building across the street at 23 Jumpstreet. This device was a clever strategy that allowed new ways of telling the same joke and knowingly pointing out the many traits found in sequels. Unfortunately the film began to suffer from a simple redundancy of jokes and the dragging “bromance” of Jenko and Schmidt, both of which prevented the film from growing into something more memorable.
While it’s hard to blame the filmmakers for sticking to an effective formula, where it was much easier to play it safe for success, it did form a line between an average and good movie. The laughs were much better than expected, due in large to Hill and Tatum, and although “22 Jumpstreet” may be treading mediocrity the sequel boldly played originality against itself with mostly fun results.
3.00 out of 5.00