Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have had a successful few years, with their work on 21 Jump Street, The LEGO Movie and the Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs films under their proverbial belts, and here, with 2014’s 21 Jump Street sequel, 22 Jump Street, their success only grows. The most well-received comedy film of the year to date, this is one of those occasions where the sequel is just as good as the first film, and much of that is due to the same writers, directors, producers and cast returning and putting their all into making another self-aware and entertaining romp, this time seeing our two protagonist cops go back to college in order to infiltrate a new drug that is making the rounds.
A fantastically funny screenplay penned by Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel and Rodney Rothman from a story written by Jonah Hill and Bacall, the writing is one of the strong elements of this film, from the outset, something that isn’t surprising if you are familiar with the prior work of the people in charge here. There is such a strong level of self-deprecation about the humour at play here, a knowing nod to those who are wondering whether the film is even necessary, causing it to be just that. Much-like the original film in 2012, 22 Jump Street is laugh-out-loud funny at regular intervals, features likeable characters, enjoyable bad-guys and glossy, slick camera-work that makes the whole thing look big, brash and special. It’s full-on comedy thrown in to a balls-out action backdrop, and it works perfectly.
The story is very much like the first film, and that isn’t a mistake. Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) go undercover at a local college where a drug called “why-phy” is in danger of “going viral”. The two find their own places as they investigate the drug’s source, with Schmidt falling in with an art-major named Maya (Amber Stevens) and Jenko finding a kindrid spirit on the football team named Zook (Wyatt Russell). With their place on campus heading in different directions, the partnership is put into question as they attempt to do their job while also dealing with college-life and the various things that it entails.
It follows the same format as the first film and many of the same jokes are here, only with twists given to them. It is probably worth noting then, that if you didn’t enjoy the first film for whatever reason, it’s doubtful that you’ll like this one. It’s more of the same, and in many ways that is part of its charm. There are a couple of occasions when the repeated jokes fall a little flat, but mostly it works and the chemistry between Tatum and Hill is undeniable, they work really well together. The return of Ice Cube as Captain Dickson and Nick Offerman as Deputy Chief Hardy and new additions such as Peter Stormare as new-villain, The Ghost, Russell as Zook, Stevens as Maya, Jillian Bell as Mercedes and others, it’s a top notch assembly that work well together to create, in the end, a really fun and enjoyable film.
Aside from Hill and Tatum who do another commendable job of carrying the film, Cube and Offerman are excellent, and provide some standout comedy moments yet again. Bell, as Mercedes, is also a very amusing character, her interactions with Hill being arguably some of the films’ most entertaining. The writing, and delivery from the actors involved, is what sets this, and its predecessor apart from the pack, irrefutably.
While I had a lot of fun with this film, and the first one a couple of years ago, I’m not sure if it can be done a third time. The self-awareness is part and parcel of this movie, the way it plays out and the reason that many of the jokes work like they do, but I’m unsure if it can work like that a third time. I would imagine a new format would need to be adopted and new jokes written, they surely cannot rely on doing the same thing again. But here, doing the same thing is the whole point, and because of that I had a good time. I enjoy Jonah Hill, and the remainder of the cast features some really talented people, so it’s easy to like. If you want to see an octopus inking in Hill’s mouth, a cringe-worthy slam-poetry scene, Tatum and Hill “tripping their balls off” again, and a vast amount of other awkward, ridiculous and completely-bonkers stuff, then give this one a watch. It is mainstream comedy with a mainstream soundtrack and a very sleek and unblemished cinematography, and it is not ashamed of being just that. It’s hard not to have fun with a film that knows exactly what it’s doing, and does it so well.
The Blu-ray release in the UK will feature 22 additional and extended scenes, 6 featurettes, Line-O-Rama’s, and a couple of extra videos. The usual sort of thing we’ve come to expect from regular Blu-ray releases.
22 Jump Street will be available, on DVD & Blu-ray, through Sony Pictures, on November 17th, 2014.