When 21 Jump Street came out in 2012, few expected it to become the success that it did. But Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum had the ineffable chemistry every good buddy comedy needs, and the film walked the fine line between ridiculous and stupid.
22 Jump Street faces much the same skepticism, but now it’s a question of whether the first was merely a one-hit wonder or if co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The LEGO Movie) can once again pull a rabbit out of their hats.
The details of the plot matter very little, with scenes designed to elicit maximum hilarity more than anything else.
Thankfully, the answer is the latter, as the film avoids the pitfalls of sequels mostly by acknowledging that they couldn’t do better than they did in the first movie.
Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) are embedded at Metro City State University to try and take down a drug ring, which is, as they readily admit, pretty much the same thing they did in high school last time.
Consequently, the details of the plot matter very little, with scenes designed to elicit maximum hilarity more than anything else. Sight gags, wordplay and clever references abound, with many of them so quick that it’ll probably take a second viewing to catch them all.
Much of the funny business revolves around the bromantic relationship between Schmidt and Jenko, and how Jenko’s quick bond with Zook (Wyatt Russell), the school’s star quarterback, threatens to derail both their partnership and investigation. Although many films have done the bromance angle in recent years, there’s just something about Hill and Tatum’s commitment to the idea that keeps it funny time and again.
What also helps is that the film is too busy making fun of itself to get too caught up in the stereotypes of college life. They do show up, but they’re used sparingly and at the perfect moment every time.
Hill and Tatum don’t miss a beat in re-creating their roles. The only significant change from the first film is that Tatum gets to play to the popular jock stereotype this time around, but the interplay between the two is not hurt in the slightest.
Ice Cube is once again great as Captain Dickson, often getting some of the best reaction shots. And newcomers like Russell (the son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn); Amber Stevens, a romantic interest for Hill; and the twin Lucas Brothers all keep the film running hot from beginning to end.
It’ll be interesting to see if the makers of 22 Jump Street push their luck with another sequel, an idea the riotous end credits mock mercilessly, but for now we can just be thankful that the second in the series is just as funny and memorable as the original.