Rarely does a sequel work, it’s always bigger, but not necessarily better, and after the unexpected success that was the Jump Street reboot; 21 Jump Street; the best movie based on an ‘80s TV-show starring Johnny Depp released in 2012, expectations were raised impossibly high, but have the Jump Street crew reached those dizzying heights again? Is 22 Jump Street everything we hoped it would be? You God damn right.
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum return as undercover police officers Schmidt and Jenko, in the funniest film of the year; 22 Jump Street; but instead of taking their ageing asses back to high school, these two sons-a-bitches are going to college; once more trying to infiltrate the dealers, and find the suppliers, of a brand new street drug; essentially sticking to exactly the same plot as the first movie.
But they can’t be criticised for doing so, especially seen as how Jump Street is the most brilliantly self-aware comedy you’re ever likely to see; effortlessly, and consistently, making jokes about the fact the plot is exactly the same (the Captain himself stresses that they need to do “exactly the same thing as last time to keep everyone happy”), how the studio has thrown so much more money behind the sequel since they “got lucky” last time, and that they’ve got “double the budget this time”; meaning that not only are they forgiven for retreading old ground, but gain so much more goodwill in the process, and even make everyone watching feel clever for deciphering these numerous in-jokes.
In-jokes also come via a rather large number of cultural references; including nods to not only the other works of the main stars, music references, and something as simple (but surprisingly funny) as listing the stereotypical items a college freshman would keep in his dorm-room; and parody elements, which include the lads riffing-off a number of buddy-cop tropes (there’s plenty of Bad Boys inferences, some Lethal Weapon gags, and a few others thrown in for good measure), riffing-off the original Jump Street movie, and even having their own 5-second Benny Hill moment.
But it’s not just cultural clap-trap, clever in-jokes, and 4th-wall-smashing brilliance, there’s also a truckload of original humour in there, some obviously improvised lines, and, above all, some spectacular chemistry between the two leads; Tatum and Hill are hilarious, clearly get on well with one another, and blow the bromance-level sky-high with numerous relationship-based jokes, a hilarious therapy session, and a number of excellently handled emotional moments which, alongside the exceptional comedy, make for a fantastically fun film.
Ice Cube excellently slips back into his role as the angry black Captain Dickson (and in a welcome move, is given much more screen-time this time out), and while newcomers Peter Stormare (the Russian astronaut from Armageddon), Wyatt Russell (Cowboys & Aliens), and Jillian Bell (Bridesmaids), aren’t exactly household names (despite the fact most people will recognise Stormare’s face) they all perform their fairly minor roles well enough. As does the little known Amber Stevens, a talented young actress who provides a love interest for Schmidt, the catalyst for a few wonderfully played out jokes, and deserves to be seen on screen much more.
In the end though, there’s not too much to say about the new Jump Street movie, other than the fact it’s funny as hell, and guaranteed to keep you laughing for the entirety of its two-hour runtime; a brilliant bro-mantic-comedy, it’s an hilarious, laugh-a-minute, movie, with two fantastic leads, a tried and tested formula, and a bucketload of fun. A clever, witty, brilliantly self-aware comedy, 22 Jump Street is everything we wanted it to be, and more… it’s like 21 Jump Street, but one better.