After proving they aren’t very good at other kinds of police work, bromantically-shackled officers Schimdt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) are forced at moustache-point to do the same damn thing they did in 21 Jump Street except this time in their nearby college. The weight of their partnership is tested as Jenko finds his calling in college football and Schmidt deals with his own burgeoning sense of loneliness. How will our duo deal with the trials, tribulations and other alliterative words beginning with’t’ that college and sequel-itis presents?
There’s the need within movie sequels to “go big or go home”, and 22 Jump Street does it’s damnedest do to both at the same time. ‘How can you do this?’ I hear you cry in an impassioned manner. Well, overemotional reader, 22 Jump Street spends most of its run time reflecting on the nature of doing the same thing over again and its effect not only on its medium of choice, but in life, relationships, the universe and everything. It literally gets to do what it did before (go home, if you will) whilst ramping things up that required notch (go big. You see? It’s not so terrifying).
So yeah, first thing’s first, Tatum and Hill’s pairing is once again a triumph in comedy goings-on. This time around the whole bromance thing is laid on so heavily there is the occasional risk of it smothering the rest of the film with its thinly-veiled allusions to marriage and the potential collapse thereof. It’s still pretty amusing, even if it does trample on the proceedings like an elephant in revealing lingerie, again which is a kinda funny image. At least I think it is. Elephants, man: comedy gold.
When not insinuating our two leads as victims of matrimony the film does a clever rejig of the previous film. Whilst jokes aren’t lazily repeated, they are heavily referenced and the film does fall victim to its problems of yore, mainly everything that isn’t Jonah-Hill, Channing-Tatum or Ice-Cube shaped. That’s Ice Cube the actor, not the three-dimensional shape made of frozen water. 22 Jump Street can be seen trying to make the peripheral aspects of the film more interesting, but aside from the odd gag they still seem as resoundingly ‘meh’ as last time.
Well, I say ‘meh’, but like last time the film dances quite happily with genre and tropes, subverting them as needs fit. This time the scope of buddy-cop comedy bleeds into frat-house adventures, and whilst it’s all neatly done, the crew behind 22 Jump Street can’t help but find themselves in rather worn territory. This territory has been claimed and mined for all its shinies long ago, which is why 22 Jump Street isn’t too fussed about anything other than skipping through genres having a good time.
The fact that 22 Jump Street knows what it is deep down (and on the surface) means it gets to be so blasé with how it treats its subject matters. It’s just too busy having fun with its leads to really realise how undercooked all the surrounding cinematic ham is. I realise I’ve said this several times now, and re-read them even more, but that’s because it’s such a glaring issue with this film. It’s more glaring than Cyclops from the X-Men, and his eyes are a portal to a dimension made entirely of laser. Believe that.
I know this review might have come across as an exercise in pummelling a deceased equine about a particular point, but if I didn’t care then I wouldn’t do so. Phil Lord and Chris Miller are smart, witty film-makers who know how to make a good slice of cinema, but that’s all 22 Jump Street is. It’s good. It makes you laugh. Sometimes it makes you laugh until particular bits of your anatomy hurt. But it’s no The LEGO Movie and really, it doesn’t need to be. 22 Jump Street knows what it is, pokes fun at itself and has a good time. It’s dumb fun, and sometimes, that’s all we need. Plus that end credit sequence is inspired.
Directors: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Ice-Cube
Running Time: 111 minutes
Release Date: 6th June 2014