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22 Jump Street

June 13, 2014

21 Jump Street was a movie that when I saw it, I literally had no expectations for it.

The television series was a bit before my time and in all honesty it’s not remembered so much for what it was as the careers and network it launched. The series was one of Fox’s first big hits, and as we all know it starred Johnny Depp who went on to become a major movie star. Making it into an action-comedy starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum was already a little strange but they not only ended up creating something good but something that clearly respected the source material. 21 Jump Street was a success because of the cast and crew’s ability to blend meta-humor, physical comedy, character development, and an actually interesting crime story together into one movie.

Now we come to 22 Jump Street, a movie that completely understands just how ridiculous it is and rather than shy away from it, decides to go all the way. The opening instantly primes us for the off-beat over-the-top world of the 21 Jump Street movie and reintroduces us to Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) with a thrilling and laugh out loud chase sequence. The pair are then informed by the Deputy Chief (Nick Offerman) that because of their success with their previous case, they’re being assigned to one that is exactly like it because the department thinks that that will mean more success. Everything moves forward with this same sort of wink and nod style of humor as Schmidt, Jenko, Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) and the entire Jump Street crew move across the street to 22 Jump Street in preparation for this new case at a local college.

Like the previous film, they’re trying to hunt down the supplier of a new synthetic drug that college students are using because it gives you the focus of Adderall followed by the trip of LSD. Having only the death of a student and a hazy picture to go on, the pair once again play to their strengths in an attempting to infiltrate the student body. Schmidt ends up becoming close to a female student while Jenko joins the football team and rushes the fraternity that most of the team are members of. As before, their fake lives begin to cause a rift in their close friendship while complicating the investigation.

Of course, this would be a much worse movie if it remained a sequel that was happy to go through the same motions as its predecessor. There’s a lot of laughs in the first half to two thirds of the movie, all of which rest on the same humor they’ve already proven they’re good at, but on the surface it does feel very much like a lazy sequel. Funny and interesting but something we’ve seen before.

When they finally let loose in the latter half of the film, 22 Jump Street really shows you what its cast and crew are capable of. There are exciting stunts and thrilling action set pieces, a constant stream of references and jokes, and a strong emotional core built on the chemistry of Hill and Tatum. It’s everything you wanted and more.

It really is a great movie but it’s difficult to talk about because you don’t want to give anything away. Especially since like any good piece of fiction, comedy especially, nothing gets wasted. Every little reference that gets dropped or piece of information that is provided ends up tying back into the overall story in an interesting way.

22 Jump Street is a fantastically paced well written film. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller once again provide great direction that not only frames the action well, but also manages to elevate the few moments of sincere emotion the movie possesses. There are a few other fun quirks that make the movie visually distinct, namely the way they play around with split screens that focus on the two leads.

Which is the other noteworthy thing about the two Jump Street movies, they actually manage to provide arcs for both characters. It’s rarer than one would expect to have a movie that has two leads that actually work so well together without it being a romance story (which of course are tropes they play with constantly to great humorous effect). Schmidt and Jenko are more than just the Blue Oni/Red Oni pairing they appear to be, and they really come alive thanks to both the ability of the writers and actors.

Overall, 22 Jump Street is a hilarious action packed flick that has come at a perfect time in Hollywood history. As the sequel to a rebooted property few people cared about, they have a freedom to satirize a lot of modern trends that are ultimately pretty dumb. I would highly suggest seeing it this summer.

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