Review: 22 Jump Street
The movie that everyone thought wasn’t going to be funny has received the sequel treatment. While most of the jokes are retreads of 21 Jump Street, I couldn’t help but laugh throughout 22 Jump Street and think that 22 might be a better movie.
The plot uses most of the story beats that 21 Jump Street used, and that was the plan. The screenwriters (Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel, and Rodney Rothman) make liberal use of the fourth wall, letting the audience know what they think of sequels and what studio executives think of sequels. They lay it on a tad thick in the beginning and it takes the focus off Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill), the real reason why people will pay to see this movie. These jokes don’t build towards anything so it’s a lot of one liners that make it hard to transition towards the next scene. The constant reference to “We need to do this the same” gets old fast and seems like an out to do the same thing. The plot is fun as hell so I don’t mind, but don’t draw so much attention to this fact. Once the dynamic duo starts the investigation though, things really start to pick up plot wise. It follows the same storyline as 21 Jump Street, but there are enough small changes that most audience members won’t feel robbed of their $10.
The script goes with the theory that bigger is better. The jokes hit at a rapid fire pace that can be a little overwhelming at points. I was laughing so hard from one joke I missed the next two or three. A friend actually said, “Hey, can they slow down the jokes for a bit?” in the middle of the screening. Even when the jokes aren’t as funny as others, they still give a great chuckle. The action is generic action, but thankfully doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s also punctuated by some great physical comedy. I liked the subtle thread of Jenko might be gay. It was done tastefully and even seemed like a great direction to take Jenko in for future films (more on that later).
While the jokes hit hard and fast, there is a slew of sight gags that went unnoticed by most of the audience. Unfortunately they pop up when something else is already happening and they get lost in the shuffle. I’ll need to watch this movie a few times to see every joke. My favorite was the Benny Hill reference that is funny its own, but gains another level of humor when you notice what is going on in the background. 21 Jump Street’s original purpose, poking fun at 80’s teen movies, has completely gone by the wayside except for a song or two. Considering how dense the jokes are at points, I’m glad they decided to leave those jokes out.
The real charm of this series is the electric chemistry of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. Their characters don’t seem to have matured much but who really cares. Tatum and Hill’s rapport seems to have improved as their jokes and dialogue bounce off each other more naturally than before. Hill continues to be funny, but I’d argue that Tatum is the funnier one this time around. He’s dumb but not incredibly dumb like the last outing. He’s just all around more likable in this outing. Ice Cube gets a lot of time to develop his character as well as stretch his comedic chops. His antics often got the hardest laughs. Amber Stevens, as Schmidt’s love interest May, doesn’t get as much to work with as Brie Larson did in 21 Jump Street. She’s more of a plot device and their relationship is dropped near the end of the movie.
Make sure to stay for the credits. The poking fun of sequel culture in Hollywood doesn’t stop once the movie stops. But in making this joke, it almost eliminates any future sequels. Not necessarily a bad thing, but does cause that hiccup for the future.
22 Jump Street gets 4/5.
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