Film: 22 Jump Street
Starring: Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street) and Channing Tatum (Magic Mike)
Directors: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street)
U.S. Release: June 13th, 2014 (Rated R)
Runtime: 112 minutes
*** 22 Jump Street features a guest review from Reel True owner, Greg Rouleau
As the summer movie season continues to produce an endless supply of sequels, prequels, reboots, etc., here is something totally refreshing: a sequel to a movie that was based on a TV show. How so? Because the film, from the opening scene to a wonderfully produced, cameo-filled end credits sequence, is fully aware of the problems that plague sequels and plays that to maximum effect. A meta examination of how a second film always feels slightly familiar, and more effort goes into the budget/CGI than the story. The only thing left for the actors to break the fourth wall would have been to physically turn to the camera and start speaking to the audience.
As the film opens, Jenko and Schmidt are on an undercover operation to bust a group of drug dealers associated with the Mexican cartel. Schmidt hilariously portrays an undercover drug lord that requires him several minutes of silence to slip into character, perhaps a nod to the serious thespian behind our protagonist, two-time Oscar nominee, Jonah Hill. His ability to improvise is far superior to Jenko, played astutely by Channing Tatum, and we see here and throughout the film that, to the surprise of no one, Jenko is the gifted one athletically. Eventually the bust fails and the Chief forces the two to do the “same thing as last time”, infiltrating a school to discover the supplier of a new drug called “WhyPhy”.
Because of their aged appearance, the two are sent to MC State, where they find themselves fitting in with new and different crowds. Jenko discovers his natural talent for football, as well as becoming a superstar with the party-hard jock clique. He even develops a bro-mance with a fellow frat brother/QB, named Zook, who threatens the bond between Jenko and his police partner. Schmidt, not one for doing keg stands until 4am, feels more at home with the artsy folk, who sit around and drink “good” wine. Seeing the two in their separate environments is a treat; each reluctant at first, but fully embracing by the finale.
Perhaps some of the jokes are revisited one too many times, such as the duo’s age, or Jenko’s boneheadedness, but they rarely fail to register in the laugh column. There’s also a twist about midway through the film that feels slightly contrived, but it does produce quite possibly the funniest sequence of the movie. It’s difficult to find any true flaws in a film as enjoyable as this one. I suspect if there is another sequel, something that’s hinted at in a tongue-in-cheek manor, the writers will continue with the self-aware approach and address how some trilogies often miss the mark with the third entry. It's also easy to imagine the franchise evolving into a self-aware spoof of other types of films. But whichever way they choose to go, you can count me in.
Stars: 3 and a half stars out of 4