Just Go Ahead And "Jump Street" Review

After the events of 21 Jump Street, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are back on the force and busting drug dealers, or at least trying to. When a trafficking bust goes bad, however, Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman) decides that they should just go back to their old formula from 21 Jump Street and see if magic happens twice, with a much bigger budget. Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) finds a drug case that looks just like their high school case from before, except that this time, Schmidt and Jenko are going to college. As Dickson and Hardy say to stick to the formula, though, Schmidt and Jenko discover that this case won’t be solved by retreading their first case, and their friendship might not survive fraternity life.

A comedy sequel is a difficult kind of film to pull off. It is nearly impossible for the sequel to be equal or better than the original film, and more often than not, writers and directors tend to fall back on what worked the first time around, making it unoriginal and forgettable. Then again, Phil Lord and Chris Miller have made careers out of impossible projects. They turned Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, a children’s picture book, into a touching story of a young inventor seeking his father’s approval as the father is trying to find a way to connect with his son. Lego Movie, a film based on a toy line, was an analysis of creative ownership and the relationship between artists and power structures. They transformed 21 Jump Street from just another ‘80s nostalgia film into a hilarious send-up of the buddy-cop action movie which also examined the changing high school social hierarchy.

Rather than rehash what worked in the original film, 22 Jump Street mocks the tropes and story structure of 21 Jump Street relentlessly, while also mocking college culture (“Hot Plate. Bean Bag Chair. Hilarious Shirt That Signals We Drink Alcohol.”). Ice Cube breaks the fourth wall constantly, discussing the higher budget for 22 Jump Street and ranting, “It’s the same case! Do the same thing!” Part of a high-speed car chase takes place in front of the Benjamin Hill Center for Film Studies, a reference to The Benny Hill Show. At football try-outs, Jenko drops his Q-tip in another team member Zook’s deli sandwich, and he calls it a “meat Q-tip, or a meat cute.” The “meet cute” is a common trope from romantic comedies when the love interests meet for the first time, and similarly, Jenko’s friendship with Zook (Wyatt Russell) is treated like a romance, tearing Jenko and Schmidt apart. There is even an homage to the lobster scene from Annie Hall with Jenko trying to reignite the spark in his friendship with Zook.

The only scene where the humor falls flat is when Jenko and Schmidt visit Mr. Walters (Rob Riggle) and Eric (Dave Franco) in prison. Most of Walters’ observations about the case could have come from Captain Dickson, Deputy Chief Hardy, or someone else entirely, and the scene is basically one big transgender joke. Walters’ penis was shot off in the first movie, and he reveals that since then, the doctors “gave [him] a vagina.” After that, he jokes about being Eric’s prison “bitch,” and Eric confirms that Walters is raping him. It is all played for laughs, but even putting the subject matter aside, the scene just isn’t funny. What is the joke? Is it that Walters used to have a penis and now has a vagina? That isn’t a joke. There is no set up and pay-off. It is a transgender reference thrown in with hopes that people will mistake it for humor. The scene also doesn’t match the tone of the rest of the movie, like Jenko later calling out the drug dealers for using gay slurs.

Aside from the prison scene, 22 Jump Street is as good as 21 Jump Street, if not better. There are some great additions to the cast, like the Lucas Brothers as Schmidt and Jenko’s roommates, and Jillian Bell is hysterical as Maya’s (Amber Stevens) roommate Mercedes. Somehow, she manages to get the best line in every scene she is in, and her awkward fist-fight with Schmidt shows off her physical comedy skills as well. These new cast members and the way they play off of Schmidt, Jenko, and Dickson also opens up different comedic opportunities than the original 21 Jump Street, giving audiences what successful comedy sequels need: Something familiar without being stale, something fresh while still fitting with the original film, and most importantly, something really, really funny.

SPECIAL FEATURES

Special features include 5 deleted and extended scenes, Line-O-Rama (alternate takes of improvised lines), a featurette called “The Perfect Couple of Directors,” and commentary by Phil Lord Chris Miller, Jonah Hill, and Channing Tatum.

"22 Jump Street" is on sale November 18, 2014 and is rated R. Action, Comedy. Directed by Chris Miller, Phil Lord. Written by Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel, Rodney Rothman. Starring Amber Stevens, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Jillian Bell, Jonah Hill, Nick Offerman, Wyatt Russell.

Jun
12
2015
Rachel Kolb • Staff Writer

I love movies, writing, and breaking into song in public. You can follow me on Twitter @rachelekolb or check out more of my work at http://rachelekolb.wordpress.com.

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