22 Jump Street Film Review
21 Jump Street was a rare and unexpected original in a sometimes tiresome comedy market. It had the luxury of no expectations and Channing Tatum, in particular, was a revelation with a comic timing nearing perfection. But as Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman) suggests, “things are always worse second time round.” This is of course a knowing nod from returning script-writers Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel and Rodney Rothman. Hardy also goes on to admit first time round was unexpected and the second outing will be more of the same with a bigger budget. Again, he’s not just talking about Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt’s (Jonah Hill) new assignment in higher education.
To be that overtly knowing is a dangerous game to play for any film. It can easily become too clever for it’s own good and without likable leads, it could even become smug. This doesn’t even feel like it’s walking the tightrope though and directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have made a film to rival the laughs and intelligence of adored Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and this years funniest film so far, The Lego Movie.
Not that it really matters – but there is a plot. Jenko and Schmidt are sent to college to try and find the supplier of the drug WHY-PHY after a girl turns up dead after an overdose. This is all a backdrop for gags and trouble in bromance-paradise as Jenko finds a new BFF in prime-supplier-suspect and college quarter-back, Zook (Wyatt Russell). The physical comedy is top notch and the one liners are on par with anything you’ll hear at the Apollo. The breakdown of Jenko and Schmidt’s bromance where the dynamic duo decide to “investigate other people” is where the laughs really become bellyaching and reminded us a lot of Hot Fuzz. The nod to Annie Hall too is a particularly inspired.
All of this doesn’t work without the yin/yang chemistry of Hill and Tatum – who are note perfect throughout. The ‘idiot’ humour of Tatum (akin to Joey from Friends) is always clever if that’s at all possible? And Hill plays the jealous boyfriend incredibly well. But the real star of the show is the angrier than ever Ice Cube playing Captain Dickson – whose office now “looks like a cube of ice” to keep in mode with the self-awareness. Angry can easily become diluted in comedy but Ice Cube’s conviction is a special sight and no mean feat. The carnage at the ‘table’ is something that’ll stick in the memory.
The action is a little paint-by-numbers but it was never really going to be anything else. The only problem here is that the film is maybe a tad too long but we blame ourselves and our child-like attention spans rather than the film’s ability to entertain. This is very very funny. And very very meta. Even the lead duo’s former movie baggage isn’t left unturned – note Jenko’s suggestion he should protect the White House or Schmidt’s enthusiasm at going undercover at a Dance Academy because he’s excellent at it.
The self-awareness of the script is as brave as it is confident. So is the directing, which is comic-book pace at times. Lord and Miller are fast becoming one of the best directorial duos in Hollywood and will surely continue to receive bigger and bolder toys to play with. We just hope not too much. The formula is the same to 21 Jump Street but maybe not as much as the makers would have you believe. This is no ordinary sequel and the film is worth watching alone for the best end credits since The Hangover. Bring on 23.
22 Jump Street Film Review: 4 Stars