22 Jump Street
by Hope Madden
I’m not sure how it is that Phil Lord and Christopher Miller keep surprising us. By now, no matter how inane the project may sound, we should expect big things from the directors of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie. And yet, who’d have guessed they’d deliver the goods yet again with their sequel, 22 Jump Street?
Self-aware without being glib, and fueled by the same good-hearted energy that marks the duo’s work, the film is both a hilarious send up of sequels, and the natural progression of a bro-mance. Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) go undercover in college, where a new drug has killed a kid and may go global if it isn’t contained. This, except for the college part, is the identical plot of the first installment. Of course, that’s on purpose.
The meta-sequel is short on character development, but does take some time to explore a relationship that may have grown stale, that spark in their partnership starting to dim. Is it time for Jenko and Schmidt to investigate other suspects?
Rampant silliness continues to be the driving force in the franchise, and Hill and Tatum – as the doughy neurotic and chiseled dunderhead, respectively – are enjoyably, even masterfully silly. Again.
Expect a lot of the same, but enough differences to make the bumbling police work fun, and more than enough sight gags and wordplay to distract you from any other weaknesses. A little slam poetry, one walk of shame, and an unexpected Benny Hill bit are some highlights from a film absolutely littered with jokes. Some hit, some miss, but they just keep coming.
The always-dastardly Peter Stormare lends his talents in the villain role, while Jillian Bell (Workaholics) and Nick Offerman contribute their share of deadpan laughs. There are some pretty great cameos, as well, but I cannot tell you how much I hoped to see James Franco when the investigation headed to the beach for Spring Break.
Besides that missed opportunity, 22 suffers from a few lags in its otherwise frantic momentum. It would have behooved Lord and Miller to trim about 10 minutes from the effort – just not the ten that play over the credits, brainstorming assignment after assignment, sequel after sequel, in glorious fashion.
Whatever its faults, like its predecessor, 22 Jump Street is no classic but it is good for a lot of laughs. Few have made “more of the same” look so good.