Film Review: 22 Jump Street

by Chad Liffmann on June 13, 2014

School in the summer has never been so awesome.

Too cool for school.

Too cool for school.

The unlikely success of 2012’s 21 Jump Street prompted the production and release of the sequel, 22 Jump Street, which ends up being funnier, more ridiculous, and more exciting than it’s predecessor.  Phil Lord and Christopher Miller must be on cloud nine right now since the writing/directing duo has experienced unbelievable success with 21 and 22 Jump Street, the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs series (they wrote and directed the first and produced the sequel), and one of the top rated and grossing movies of the year, The Lego Movie.  Lord and Miller find creative ways to inject a constant stream of humor into their films.  In the case of 22 Jump Street, they once again exploit the infectious chemistry between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum and deliver a script that has no shortage of joke types — including slapstick, sight gags, witty banter, and an abundance of self-referential and meta humor.  With such a clever script and the chance for us to revisit the budding bromance at its core, 22 Jump Street is comedic gold and perfect summer fun.

To describe the plot of 22 Jump Street, I could practically cut and paste the synopsis from the first film — two young cops go undercover as students in order to bust an emerging drug ring.  Sound familiar?  Instead of high school, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are now infiltrating college.  The filmmakers know its the exact same plot, too.  This film doesn’t stop reminding us how similar the plot is to the first film, and the redundancy and lengths they go to show us the obvious signs of “sequelitis” are absolutely hysterical (Hint: stay for the credits).  But 22 Jump Street is more than just self-referential humor.  The film continues to expand upon the bromance between the two male leads in a way that’s appropriate for a silly R-rated action comedy.  That is to say, just like Jenko’s character, not very thought-provoking.  It’s the simple pleasure we get from seeing Hill and Tatum complete each other’s thoughts, riff off each other, and bicker like an old couple that keeps the film’s juices flowing.

Yet Hill and Tatum aren’t the only ones getting laughs.  Just like in 21 Jump Street, there’s a plethora of side characters popping in for a moment or two in the sun, including a few returning characters.  Newbies include Patton Oswalt, who appears briefly as a brutally honest tenured professor, and Jillian Bell (Bridesmaids, Workaholics) who gets some of the strongest laughs of the entire film as the snide roommate of Schmidt’s love interest, Maya (Amber Stevens).  Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) gets more screen time too, but before you begin to prejudge, just remember what you thought about a 21 Jump Street big screen adaptation in the first place, nevermind a sequel.  Somehow it all works out.  There’s never a dull moment in this film, and even though the new batch of buddy cop movies have required a level of ADD in order to please the new generation of moviegoers (imagine how boring they’d find the Lethal Weapon series to be — all serious and stuff), there’s no denying that the formula seems to be working, both with critics and at the box office.  For this, we can thank the Lord…and the Miller.

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22 Jump Street opens in theaters June 13, 2014.

(Red Band Trailer — contains adult language, etc. that could spoil some of the funny shock value in the film)

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