June 29, 2014 Leave a comment
When their undercover sting operation is foiled by an octopus, Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) are swiftly reassigned to Jump Street by Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman), where they are once again answerable to Captain Dickson (Ice Cube). This time, however, they are sent to college, though the specifics of their assignment are much and such the same: they must identify the individual supplying WHYPHY to the student body, a drug which has already claimed one life on campus.
A meta-sequel to their meta-reboot, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s 22 Jump Street continues in the vein of its predecessor, subverting the traditional buddy cop movie format while also taking swipes at everything from sequels in general to the film’s own plot holes. Nothing is safe, with veiled references to Ice Cube’s rapper persona, Tatum’s extant filmography and even The Benny Hill Show making sure that there is at least one decent gag in the film for just about everyone.
21 Jump Street was the film that first made audiences re-evaluate Channing Tatum, with later 2012 releases Magic Mike and Haywire helping to recast the actor as a serious dramatic talent with excellent comic timing. He’s arguably even funnier in the sequel, particularly in scenes where he’s required to improvise (something that his character at least is absolutely terrible at) or show any intellectual capabilities whatsoever. His constant confusion of words and phrases (WHYPHY/WiFi; homophobe/homophone) are a constant delight.
Hill and Ice Cube are great too, particularly when Schmidt starts dating Dickson’s daughter, Maya (Amber Stevens), leading to a stand-out showdown in the Captain’s cube of ice. It’s relative newcomer Jillian Bell as Maya’s roommate, Mercedes, however, who ultimately steals the show. While it would be a spoiler to reveal the character’s true role within the narrative, her early antagonism with Schmidt is a real treat, as she immediately calls him out on account of his apparent old age. One particular skirmish may well go down as the funniest of the year, though Dickson vs. the buffet cart gives it some pretty tough competition.
That said, it’s not quite as funny as the first film, and a number of refrains fall particularly flat. The partners once again find themselves dosing on the drug they are supposed to be removing from circulation, and though the effects are explored in a different way it just doesn’t have the same impact. While perhaps less likely to make you laugh out loud than the first film, the satire this time around is often much cleverer than you might expect. A running gag involving the project’s out-of-control budget will at least have you smiling, while a novel use of the end credits ups the laughs quotient considerably.
It’s not entirely clear whether this franchise has anywhere left to go, but thanks to the talents of its directors and stars this sequel is a worthy follow-up to 2012’s original. It’s certainly far better than anyone could reasonable expect for what is after all the sequel to a rebooted TV show.