Review: 22 Jump Street

22JumpStreet The followup to the highly successful and hilarious 21 Jump Street has a long and tough battle to fight. On one hand it has to not only be funny, but funnier than its predecessor. It also has to tread close to the formula that worked the first time without rehashing the same movie and jokes. I am happy to say that Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum absolutely deliver. Amping the franchise up to the next logical level while remaining true to what worked so well for them the first go around. Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie) this sequel was amazingly self aware and really knew the hurdles that it had to traverse. There are numerous winks and nods to not rehashing the same jokes and plot points. Lord and Miller attacked the obvious criticism that comes with comedy sequels from the onset, which made the movie immediately more endearing as you began to really root for the success of the movie; smart strategy. Even with that planted motivation the movie met and exceeded my expectations.

Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) returns as the police equivalent of the odd couple. Now attempting to perform real police work, we meet up with them making a large scale drug bust. Things don’t go their way and they are immediately thrown back into a case very similar to the plot of the first movie; find the drug dealer in the local school but this time in college instead of high school. They are told by Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) that they need to handle this situation “exactly like the last time.” One of many winks to the audience. So our two unlikely heroes are off to the local college to stop the sale of, WHYPHY, a new mystery party drug. One of the overarching storylines of the movie is the relationship between Schmidt and Jenko. While the first movie was about them bonding as a team, 22 Jump Street goes the route of the strain on their relationship and the attempt to maintain being friends. For a whole lot of dick and fart jokes, the movie has a ton of heart. The two separate for large parts of the film to find themselves in their respective situations. Coming together occasionally to try and hash out their differences. In the end, they do and become an even stronger team than the first time.

At the heart of this movie with its amusing story and self awareness is pure comedy gold. Hill’s level of neediness and Tatum dunderhead Jenko are a perfect match. From the idiotic comments to the physical difference between the two they are hitting all the high points. The story while not breaking any new ground did have a twist or two that might not be so obvious. The heroes are hilarious, the villains as well, and the sheer level of awkwardness of being two 30+ year olds pretending to be freshmen in college is ripe for tons of laughs. The crowd I saw it with were laughing hysterically throughout the entire movie, and I would expect that from most. I was very happy to see some of the lesser characters from the first one really have larger and meaningful roles this time around. There is no doubt that this will be this year’s best comedy. If you enjoyed the first one you will love this, and if you didn’t even see the first one that’s ok. The movie literally does a “Previously on 21 Jump Street” moment to catch you up. In a summer of big budget action flicks with robots and aliens abound, go laugh yourself silly with 22 Jump Street.

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