Mar 21, 2015

Review: 22 Jump Street (2014)

Before it was released, no one had really high expectations for 21 Jump Street. After all, it doesn't take a cynic to know that Hollywood is always on the lookout for whatever's hot at the moment and 80's TV shows seemed to be the thing. The A-Team and G.I. Joe are some examples I can think of off the top of my head. While both performed quite well at the box office, they're definitely not movies I'd consider to be worth more than a watch. That especially goes for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra which funnily enough stars the soulless corpse of Channing Tatum.

Everyone who had doubts about 21 like I did was proven wrong once it was released. With a well-written script from Michael Bacall, clever direction from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller as well as some of the most brotastic chemistry from Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, we had a winner. No way could the creatively titled 22 Jump Street match the awesomeness of 21 right?

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Genre: action, comedy, crime
Directed by: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Produced by: Jonah Hill, Neal H. Moritz, Channing Tatum, etc.
Written by: Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel, Rodney Rothman
Music by: Mark Mothersbaugh
Running time: 112 minutes
Production company: Original Film, Stephen J. Cannell Productions, Columbia Pictures, etc.
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Releasing, Big Picture 2 Films, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $50,000,000
Box office: $331,333,876 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Peter Stormare, Wyatt Russell, Amber Stevens, Jillian Bell, Ice Cube, The Lucas Brothers, Nick Offerman, Jimmy Tatro, Caroline Aaron, Craig Roberts, Marc Evan Jackson, Joe Chrest, Eddie J. Fernandez, Rye Rye, Johnny Pemberton, Stanley Wong 

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Synopsis


Police officers Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) have been promoted and are hot on the trail of some drug dealers. Their arrest attempt fails of course and they're ordered to go work under Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) once again at 22 Jump Street. A drug called WHYPHY has been making the rounds, resulting in the death of a female student. Schmidt and Jenko are made to go undercover once again to uncover the identity of the supplier. This time however, they're going to college.

Review


21 Jump Street was pretty meta and 22 Jump Street continues in that same tradition. In fact it's even more meta than ever before. There's no question that without all the self-referential humour and irony, 22 Jump Street would honestly feel quite underwhelming because it doesn't really change its formula whatsoever. It tries to throw a couple twists and a few curve balls here and there, but it's the same movie as 21 Jump Street. Although this is would usually be a negative thing for a sequel, I don't feel quite that way about about 22 Jump Street.

Michael Bacall and his writing team are the ones to be thanked for that. They jam pack 22 Jump Street with jokes about the film being a sequel and having a bigger budget that succeed relatively well in disarming the viewer. Yes the film is repetitive and features a lot of repetitive jokes, but we're in on the whole thing. Without those jokes 22JS would be like every other middling sequel that Hollywood pumps out. That's not quite true though because the biggest deal here just like in 21 Jump Street is the insane bro-chemistry of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum.

Hill and Tatum haven't lost an iota of what they had in 21JS and their friendship is taken to new homoerotic levels of comedy. I'll admit that the joke gets a bit old by a certain point, but it still works. Even when they're not together in certain scenes, both actors turn in some good individual comedic performances. Apparently quite a bit of 22JS is improvised which isn't surprising in the least since both Hill and Tatum look like they're having a blast.

Still, being meta and self-referential can't make all that repetition in 22JS just disappear. 22 Jump Street is only a little bit longer than 21 Jump Street, but it actually ends up feeling quite a bit longer. At least that was my impression. There are some great, memorable comedic scenes that are broken up by what seem to be relatively jokeless areas that give 22 this stretched out feeling. While I sometimes laughed as hard as I did when I saw 21, I didn't laugh quite as much.

One area of 22 Jump Street that has definitely improved however is the action. In 21 Jump Street the action was mostly choppy and the camera was zoomed in too close. Those aren't as big issues anymore which is pretty nice. It's safe to say that we're far from the greats of action, but this is a solid improvement which goes a long way in making 22 a good action/comedy film.

There are some hilarious scenes in 22 Jump Street and Ice Cube who for so long was one of my most reviled comedic actors is a guy I'd suddenly like to see more of. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum should clearly continue to do movies together, but I'd like to see something outside of these Jump Street films. While I appreciate the hard as meta qualities of 22 Jump Street, that doesn't replace legitimate laughs which this sequel has less of compared to the original.

Rating


6.5/10

Related Reviews:

21 Jump Street (2012)