Directors: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Amber Stevens, Wyatt Russell, Jillian Bell
Plot: This time, Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) are sent to college to track down another drug ring, aware that they are moving apart.
I get that a massive joke in 22 Jump Street is that it is almost exactly like the first movie, but, even though it jokingly references this every five minutes, it still doesn’t change the fact that we have seen this movie before.
People walking into the cinema will expect half of this, of course. The big change is that rather than high school the action has escalated to college. This similarity I was on-board with, because that is a part of the main joke. On the other hand, I was very wary that the writers didn’t do anything new with the concept of college. In the first movie, the writers cleverly play with high school stereotypes and portray the clichés in a different light. Students who wanted to study weren’t mocked and the homosexual character was just as cool as the prom queen. In 22 Jump Street, the movie’s idea with college is eerily like an American Pie spin-off. The college featured in here is a bunch of movie stereotypes stapled together, which makes it very hard to care when Schmidt and Jenko end up taking part in pledges to stay undercover. This was a shame, because a bit of the intelligence the first movie had seemed watered down, in favour for some more obvious college joke thrills. However, back to the point about similarities, the fact that this movie was set in college didn’t bother me too much. It was the other plot points where the ‘same movie just bigger’ joke was taken too far. One of the cops gets in with the cool kids, while the other one doesn’t. We saw how this plotline worked itself out last time, so it is hard to summon up the courage to care about it a second time. It would have been more fun to take the same story, but find some new material to play around with. Sadly, 22 Jump Street really does want to make the same movie twice.
But just when I am about to condemn this film as a comedy flop, it does something truly inspired. Some of the jokes hit the mark so perfectly that it is hard not to love this film. Jenko finally cottoning on to Schmidt’s girlfriend’s true identity, the movie hilariously referencing Channing Tatum’s other movies (a Step Up parody is close to being the best joke in the entire movie). Ice Cube’s character is given more to do, which is refreshing. Looking through his filmography, Ice Cube can only play the one character, but this is the kind of movie that gives that one character the perfect pedestal to shine from. He gets some great lines and because, he is more than this movie’s ‘M’ character, he is able to kick some ass in the final fight. Also 22 Jump Street, like the first one, saves itself with the final fight sequence. It is truly amazing, once again finding the correct balance between funny and serious, so the ending is grounded in some form of normality. It becomes hard to have a go at the faulty storyline, when this movie does what a comedy should do, and brings the laugh hard and fast. With a small point in the midway part of the film where the pace slows down too much notwithstanding, when this movie gets going, it doesn’t stop.
Also, was it just me or were the two leads much more confident this time around. Schmidt and Jenko felt more stereotyped than last time, as though they were more aware that Jenko was meant to be the stupid one and Schmidt would be awkward around the ladies. When the film kicks off, it felt as though Tatum and Hill were doing impressions of their old characters, rather than playing a role in its own right. On one hand, this could be seen as a bad thing; on the other, I had to admit that it did allow the two characters to go bigger and better. Channing Tatum flexes his action hero muscles more regularly, Jonah Hill awkwardly stuttering around his new girlfriend’s father hits the mark excellently. The bromance card is also a lot stronger. The gay references between their friendship come thick and fast. This does mean that Amber Steven’s girlfriend character doesn’t get the space to make as big an impression as Brie Larson did, but it does lead to some of the finest interactions between the two leads. Tatum and Hill are much better this time around and their chemistry is on form. While I partially think that the Jump Street series should stop at a second movie, I am intrigued to see if a third and final movie might parody the idea of a trilogy finale. Anything to see these characters back doing their thing on the big screen.
Final Verdict: Yes, I could mark this down on a weak story, but we all came here for the laughs, and as a comedy, this absolutely delivers.