Tuesday, January 13, 2015

22 Jump Street

Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.
2014. Rated R, 112 minutes.
Jonah Hill
Channing Tatum
Ice Cube
Peter Stormare
Amber Stevens
Jillian Bell
Wyatt Russell
Nick Offerman
The Lucas Brothers
Jimmy Tatro
Patton Oswalt
Rob Riggle
Dave Franco
Queen Latifah

Way way back in the 1990s, I watched a Wes Craven directed slasher flick called Scream. It was so astoundingly self-aware while at the same time being really good at the stuff it was lampooning that it immediately became my all-time favorite movie from the genre. It wasn't the first such movie, but it did help in usher in the era of meta movie-making of which I'm a big fan. To this day, I laugh much more easily at movies in which the characters clearly understand that they are in a movie, or are at least aware of the trappings of the genre in which they're operating. This brings me to 22 Jump Street. The sequel to the surprisingly good 21 Jump Street takes delight in letting you know exactly what it's doing and still making you laugh at it.

Right off the bat, the movie lets us in on the fact that it knows its a sequel and makes no bones about the possibility of a third movie in the franchise as 23 Jump Street is openly discussed by our heroes. From there, we get the plot delivered by Ice Cube, returning as Captain Dickson. He's sending our heroes to college to pose as students in order to find the dealer of a new and dangerous drug. He then proceeds to tell his officers, and us of course, that it's the "exact same case as last time." And off we go on our adventure. In case you didn't know, our college hopefuls are played by Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill who will pose as brothers. Along the way, they'll try to fit in by joining a frat, the football team, attending a poetry slam, and hooking up with girls. Ya know, the usual.

Greatly aiding the material is the out-of-this-world chemistry between the stars. Through both of the Jump Street movies they have proven to be a perfect comic duo. They complement each other wonderfully. Just as important, they each know when it's the other guy's turn to carry things by themselves. As a result, each gets a number of turns being the funniest guy in the movie. This is of great benefit to the overall product. Tatum, in particular, continues to surprise with his comedic chops. It feels like a more natural performance than I'm used to seeing from him. He appears to be comfortable just being and having fun rather than "acting" and trying to project a persona. For his part, Hill continues the run of excellence he's been on since Moneyball.

Two other performers also shine brightly, One is Ice Cube, doing his best work in years. He's funnier than he's ever been. This includes his comedic heyday back when he was making the Friday movies. During those films he was essentially the straight man to Chris Tucker and then Mike Epps. Here, he gets to cut loose and provide a steady stream of laughs. The other is Jillian Bell as Mercedes. Her deadpan delivery of a seemingly endless stream of old jokes is flat out hilarious. Mean spirited? Yes, but I still laughed.

Laughter is the key ingredient of this movie. The story is clearly second fiddle to all the gags. There are plot holes, convenient occurrences. and of course, they told us at the beginning it was the exact same case as last time. This movie doesn't even pretend to be re-inventing the wheel. That lack of pretentiousness makes it all work. Things I would normally shred a movie for are given a pass because I know that the movie knows it's stupid. It practically screams at us right from the beginning, "If you liked 21 Jump Street, you'll like this!" In all honesty, it's probably right.


  1. I really liked this one. I laughed a lot, and Tatum is just slaying it lately. That said, I think I preferred the 1st one. This one did feel a tad long...but those closing credits were insanely great.

    1. I have to go back and watch the first again to see which I prefer. It's pretty close. And yes, I loved the end.credits.

  2. I liked this film. It knew what it was and it didn't apologize for it. Yet, it is also quite daring for the fact that it's making fun of sequels while knowing it's a sequel. Plus, I got a kick out of seeing Jonah Hill as a Chicano. I bought him at it while I loved hearing Channing Tatum try to speak Hispanic.

    1. Yes, that opening bit was very funny and set the stage quite nicely.

  3. I'm not going to lie, I thought this was the funniest movie I watched last year. Still, many of the jokes were the same as 21 Jump Street which did get old after awhile but that came to no surprise when you consider the lead characters. I have to admit the best part of this, was not seeing Rob Riggle make a complete ass of himself like he did in 21 Jump Street ...and every other movie he has ever been in.

    1. I agree, of the 2014 movies I've watched, this is the funniest. I still need to see Top Five, but so far this is at the top of the list as far as comedies goes.

  4. "If you liked 21 Jump Street, you'll like this!" Y'know, that's kind of the reason I rented this one and they're right, it was still hilarious even though I normally don't go for raunchy comedies. Tatum/Hill bromance is still funny this time around, but I don't know if I want to see a third movie though, they should just stop now.

    1. C'mon! You don't wanna see 23 Jump Street: Medical School?

  5. So funny. Really did like how self aware it was, and how the two guys carry on right where they left off. And those end credits haha. The priest one especially.

  6. Really loved those end credits. Loved it all, to be honest.