By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
22 Jump Street is one of two very different sequels ( the other being How to Train Your Dragon 2) opening this week. Still, these two follow-ups do have something in common with each other. They are both well done second installments that more than satisfy, but don’t outshine their predecessors. Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, still hot off the success of their more family oriented Lego Movie, and writers Michael Bacall and Oren Uziel have made an often hilarious follow-up to the successful 21 Jump Street that delivers bigger and bolder action and more of the intelligent and witty humor that made the first movie so lovable.
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum reprise their roles as Schmidt and Jenko. After successfully busting a high school drug ring in the first film, the two have been working the streets attempting to catch a drug dealer known as The Ghost (Peter Stormare). After one undercover sting goes sour, Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman) sends them back to Jump Street where Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) gives them a college assignment. Much like the first film, the undercover duo have to “infiltrate the dealers” of a new experimental drug that causes the death of a bright student and “find the supplier”. Once again, the case puts a strain on Schmidt and Jenko’s friendship and the two still have much to learn about themselves and each other as they attempt to catch their perps.
Though my synopsis doesn’t quite do the film justice and probably sounds like a total rehash of the first movie, this sequel has much to offer fans of the first movie. Yes. The plot is essentially the same with a few variations of the dynamics, and audiences will get treated to more of the same kind of humor from the first film, but writers Bacall and Uziel bring some fresh comedic writing and scenarios to this movie. Lord, Miller and cast also offer some new hilarious physical and visual gags to the mix. The result is a comedy that is pretty much just as good as the first movie. My sole complaint has to do with movie’s climax which is not quite as exciting and entertaining as the prom sequence and subsequent car chase toward the end of the first movie. This film instead has a spring break sequence that plays a bit flatly and runs on a bit too long. Every action sequence and comedic moment leading up to the lackluster climax is pure gold, though, and the cast members all perform beautifully.
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum make one of the best comedic odd couples to hit the big screen since legends Lemmon and Matthau, Laurel and Hardy and Abbott and Costello. They have an incredible chemistry together and both easily exchange roles of straight man and comic back and forth. Both bring comedic elements to the relationship and both react beautifully when the other is playing the fool. Also returning is Ice Cube who gets to play a larger role in this movie and hysterically does so. Nick Offerman reprises his role as Chief Deputy Hardy, but like the first movie, only has limited screen time. Newcomers include Peter Stormare who plays dealer “The Ghost”, the lovely Amber Stevens who portrays Schmidt’s love interest Maya, a sardonically funny Jillian Bell who plays Maya’s roommate Mercedes, The Lucas Brothers who amusingly portray the Yang twins, and Wyatt Russell who stars as the delightfully goofy Zook.
Delightfully goofy may be a great way to describe some of the humor of the film, but is a tad shortsighted. The humor has an awesome mix of goofy and silly antics, but is also intelligently self-aware and celebrates/lampoons its identity as a sequel movie. Yes. It is more of the same, but also has fresh new material to please its audiences. Like the first movie, it doesn’t hold too much back in terms of humor and language, so more reserved and conservative audiences probably won’t enjoy the material as much. Fans will rejoice in the fact that Schmidt and Jenko have returned, are kicking ass, and are making them laugh to the point of crying.