|22 JUMP STREET
|13 June 2014|
Rated R for language throughout, sexual content, drug material, brief nudity and some violence
Remember that kid who got picked on in middle school? (I do, because I was one.) Now, remember how eventually they just owned the names that they were being called until it was no longer enjoyable for the other kids to make fun of them? Well, Christopher Miller and Phil Lord took a page out of that kid’s book by making their latest comedy “22 Jump Street” critic-proof. Making good on Ice Cube’s promise made at the end of “21 Jump Street,” Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) head to college in this latest installment. A new drug called WhyPhy (pronounced “wifi”) has lead to a death on campus and if you think this sounds reminiscent of the original premise, you are not alone, as every character returning from the original film makes this painfully clear. The directors are unabashed in poking fun at themselves and the fact that Hollywood loves sequelsl (“don’t they know it’s always worth the second time around”), that these two guys definitely do not belong in college (“you look 45 years old”), and that the premise is being repeated (“find the dealer, find the supplier… it’s exactly like last time”). But in all honesty, it is not exactly like last time.
In “21 Jump Street”, Jenko was the fish out of water, the former high school jock that does not fit in with the new version of popular kids; the eco-friendly nerds to which Schmidt was akin. This time, however, Jenko makes friends with the quarterback of the football team, Zook (Wyatt Russell), and, in the process, drives a wedge between himself and Schmidt, to which both relationships reach levels of almost homoeroticism. Schmidt eventually uses his newfound freedom to hook up with an art major named Maya (Amber Stevens), who later drops a huge comedic bombshell that has to be seen to be believed. Most of your favorite characters are back from the original, with Rob Riggle reprising his role as Mr. Walters, now in jail and without a penis, thanks to the finale of the first film and Nick Offerman back as Deputy Chief Hardy, delivering some of the film’s more meta lines. Some new faces include Peter Stormare offering up his best villain performance as a drug dealer nicknamed The Ghost and Jillian Bell providing one of the comedic highlights of the film as the college antagonist and Maya’s roommate, Mercedes, who tries her best to blow Schmidt’s cover with her pointed observations about his age. The epic fist fight between Mercedes and Schmidt is one for the ages.
Widely successful both times around, “22 Jump Street” can attribute most of its success to the duo of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, who have a chemistry unmatched in recent comedy history. Complete opposites in so many ways, its their ability to commit to the outrageous roles that gives them the edge over previous comedy duos. With an outside-the-box screenplay from Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, “22 Jump Street” is a refreshing sequel that causes one to wonder why writers do not poke fun at Hollywood and themselves more often. Even the end credits sequence displays more creativity than most comedies exhibit in an entire run-time. Unfortunately, making fun of one’s self is probably only bankable for one film, so Miller and Lord will have to reach even further outside the box if they continue down this franchise because unlike the kids on the playground, critics will be relentless.