Film: 22 Jump Street
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum
Directed by: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
The dynamic duo of Hill and Tatum with their immense bromance and self-aware police antics have returned again to do the exact same thing that they did in 21 Jump Street. Luckily though, this sequel resembles a red solo cup full of jokes that never takes time to get a refill. Alas though, it doesn’t need to as the jokes just keep coming to the point where you will most likely forget how to breathe by the end of seemingly lean 112-minute run time.
The plot is simple; there’s a new drug game on Metro City University’s campus. Someone has died from that drug. Schmidt and Jenko must team up to take down this new evil without having their own personas getting in the way. Yes, you read that right; it is the exact same plot of the original except taking place in different locations. But then again, that’s the charm of the film.
Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are on fire after the release of The Lego Movie. They prove that their strengths lie within the execution of tired old plot points instead of reinventing the wheel. Of course, the self-aware attitude that the humor in the film inhabits is equally brilliant and hilarious. Its humor spends a lot of time directed towards itself as the film shows it has no problem making fun of itself without breaking the fourth wall. It is self-evident that this powerhouse directing/writing team–that even turned down a chance to helm Ghostbusters 3–have a distinct way with comedy, and in a way, it is revolutionary.
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum turn the bromance up to astronomical levels as their unique brand of camaraderie take over the film like a frat house filled with football players after a win against their rivals. One major difference with this sequel is that it doesn’t totally focus on the comedic talents of Hill and Tatum. Ice Cube makes a case that he can be funnier than both of the stars put together with his brand of physical humor accompanied with vulgarity shouting. There is one scene in the film where Cube goes off on a hate-fueled rampage and it had me gasping for breath after it ended. Jillian Bell (of Workaholics fame) tends to steals the show too as the one college student questioning how old Schmidt and Jenko look.
There are even some sly winks at filmmakers like Michael Bay and Brian De Palma through the film’s multitude of comedic set pieces. The film begins with a shot that pans in over Schmidt and Jenko conversing on the top of a parking garage with the sunset in the background. Naturally, some stakes-raising music along with a complimentary lens flare occupy the sequence as an almost direct stab at the generic Hollywood blockbuster aesthetic. That’s the best part about 22 Jump Street, it knows what films to make fun of it but it invites you to be a part of the joke as the viewer.
You can see that this film was meant to appeal to the current generation in college now and that is ever more evident with the soundtrack. The film is filled with these loud and booming EDM tracks from artists like Duck Sauce, Flosstradamus, and Steve Aoki while the pacing is akin to an Adderall addled teenager. The first 30 minutes of the film is like a greatest hits collection of jokes with almost no story but you are laughing too hard to realize it.
Where the film jumps leaps and bounds in my eyes though is the humor in taking down the norms in a college setting. The little anecdotal scenes where people are taking a walk of shame in the early morning after a wild night of partying hits especially well because that is exactly what happens on a college campus. There are even the jocks on the football team that are sipping some kind of metaphorical Kool-Aid that has them at a heightened sense of angst and anger at all times. These common archetypes in a college environment are ripe with self-revelatory humor and Miller/Lord take every advantage they can get to make you laugh at them. Spring break in an exotic location is even made fun of with what I can only deduce is a much more comedic version of the party scenes in Spring Breakers.
22 Jump Street surpasses Neighbors as best comedy of the year with having to say ‘something cool’ about everything from alcohol to art students drinking wine and contemplating life. If you thought that the original was quote-worthy, try not to include lines of dialogue in daily conversation after you see this one.
Written by: Sam Cohen — (Follow him on Twitter)