John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews

22 Jump Street

Genre: Comedy, Action and Adventure

Director: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Peter Stormare, Ice Cube

MPAA-Rating: R

Release Date: June 13th, 2014

“Do the same thing as last time. Everyone’s happy, about it ” states Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman) early on in the comedy sequel, sildenafil 22 Jump Street. He’s right to an extent, of course. In sequels, viewers often want to watch the same brand of comedy that their predecessors offered but audiences don’t want the jokes to feel recycled or overused. Comedy sequels are often hard to enjoy because they only rely on the same jokes they already used. Several of the National Lampoon movies (such as Christmas Vacation) work because they are exploring new stories with the same great characters while the first Hangover sequel failed (critically) because it was exactly like the original (only more mean-spirited).

22 Jump Street features elements from both examples— it offers fresh new comedy while replicating the same story beats from the original. Its plot might be similar but the comedy is fresh and the comedy is the reason we see movies like this.

Like Scream 2, 22 Jump Street embraces it status as a sequel and celebrates the good and bad aspects of that.  It opens with “previously on 21 Jump Street” and many of its early jokes about the team getting back together again not-so-subtly reference its status as a follow-up. The budget is bigger here and so are the expectations and both are noted numerous times during the witty dialogue.

In this follow-up, Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) are asked to infiltrate a college and find out who is selling drugs on  school grounds (sound familiar?). In a reversal of fortune though, Jenko is the one who fits in here. He’s a frat boy. He’s a bro. He’s a football-loving, beer pong-playing, fraternizing dude who easily meshes with his fellow students. Schmidt is the loner here, leaving parties early and spending time alone more often than not.

The characters are given different “statuses” than they were in the original and the film has fun putting each of them in new roles.

The plot itself often feels like an afterthought though (aside from Ice Cube who is given much more to do in a few hilarious scenes). In the last feature, the case itself–  of a drug being  distributed at the high school– took on a more prominent role with Dave Franco serving as the laid-back drug-dealer. Here, the dealer is less obvious but the character responsible for the drug-trafficking is far more forgettable. With that in mind, the feature seems more focused on setting up comedic scenes and putting the characters in awkward situations than it is on telling a fully fleshed-out story about the officers investigating the case.

Regardless of its familiar story beats though, directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller– who helmed the brilliant Lego Movie earlier this year– realize the potential of sequel jokes and use that to elevate the material. Stars Tatum and Hill also seem game and poke fun at their own personalities throughout.

When 21 Jump Street arrived in theaters, its witty and surprisingly funny content surprised audiences. Here the surprise– of the movie itself and many of the plot twists– is lacking but the hilarity is still there and that’s why I hope this franchise continues in the years to come.

Review by: John Hanlon