22 Jump Street is the sequel to Sony Pictures’ reboot of the 21 Jump Street television series reuniting Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as Detectives Schmidt and Jenko. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, fresh off the highly successful The LEGO Movie, return to direct the action comedy, with a raucous supporting cast featuring returning players Ice Cube, Nick Offerman, and a host of new performers down for whatever.
2012’s 21 Jump Street was deliciously meta, poking fun at the idea of adapting old TV shows for nostalgia’s sake, and this one’s no different. This time, the film uses sequels as a target, ridiculing itself for crass commercialization while at the same time twisting its formulaic premise, warping it for laughs and playing against expectations. I dare say this is the best comedy sequel since Wayne’s World 2, which also mocked the idea of sequelitis, though not as thoroughly as this.
Schmidt and Jenko head to MC State to track down the source of a new drug called WHYPHY (pronounced Wi-Fi) that resulted in the death of a local student. Once again the dynamic duo go undercover, and hilarity – in a word – ensues. The highlight of the film series is the interplay and dynamics between actor-producers Hill and Tatum. The friction and social drifting between the two play out like a cartoonish soap opera. Again.
Lord and Miller came from the world of animation, so it’s fitting that this film like its predecessor is a live-action cartoon: profane, zany and full of visual comedy. The only other comedic visualizer I could compare them to right now is Edgar Wright. The directing duo knows how to use the frame of the screen to get laughs, as well as giving their cast room to improv and play off of one another. Still, 22 Jump Street is an exercise of controlled chaos, even though there are times the repetitiveness of recycling beats from the last film threatens to become boring.
Thankfully, whenever it looks like it’s going to zig, it zags instead. Ice Cube especially gets more laughs out of this sequel than the first, crowing about the new and improved office the first “program’s” success has granted him. Brooklyn comedians The Lucas Bros. also make an indelible impression and steal the show. Almost everybody in this movie steals the show at one point or another.
22 Jump Street is the sequel we didn’t get from the Hangover series, or other comedy franchises. It’s fresh yet familiar, recognizable yet renegade. It gives us the movie we wanted, and the movie we didn’t know we wanted. See it, and don’t leave until after the credits. Just don’t; trust me on this one.