22 Jump Street: Movie Review

22_Jump_Street_PosterFollowing the unexpected success of the movie reboot of the 1980’s classic procedural in 2012, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum return to the big screen for a sequel which pretty much reprises the formula of the original movie, only with a bigger budget.

After best buds and undercover cops Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) successfully bust the syndicate manufacturing and distributing the synthetic drug H.F.S. in a local high school, the partners are assigned to a fresh case, this time embedding them as students in MC State College where a drug called WHYPHY, which is linked to the death of a young college girl. But because Schmidt and Jenko have polar opposite personalities, college proves to be very different for the two as Jenko is immediately embraced by the jocks, leaving Schmidt to run with the art school kids. As the two learn to work separately, they discover that their friendship is much stronger than any opportunity that college has to offer for either of them.

I loved the 21 Jump Street movie and was really happy to know that the same team (helmed by directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller) was working to make another one. 22 Jump Street (so named because the headquarters had to move across the street after the Koreans bought back the original location) basically recycled the entire plot of the first movie, and reused and improved on the parts of the formula that worked, making the sequel just as hilarious as the 2012 sleeper hit.

The only thing that was different with 22 Jump Street was the location (college), but the gags, the characters, and the issues remained the same.

What I liked about the sequel was its ability to embrace its lack of originality and the filmmakers’ sheer gall in using this as a running joke throughout the film. Nick Offerman (Deputy Chief Hardy) and Ice Cube (Captain Dickson) made constant references to the first movie and how much more money the studios have put in the budget because the first operation was such a surprise hit. It poked fun at the stars’ ages and handicaps and this was hilarious because Tatum and Schmidt were so comfortable with themselves and with their roles that goofing off seemed natural.

There were also links to the first movie with guests appearances from 21 Jump Street baddies Dave Franco and Rob Riggle, who are now incarcerated for their crimes, as well as scenes connected by dialogue to the first Jump Street like Jenko taking a bullet for Schmidt. In terms of new characters, I liked the character of Zook (Wyatt Russel) and the chemistry he had with Jenko. They had great rapport and it was awesome to see them share screen time together.

As with the original, there were also a lot of jokes referring to Jenko and Schmidt’s weird bromance, which became even more ridiculous when Jenko had to grope around Schmidt’s underwear for a hand grenade. The action was great, as there were more action sequences (owing to the bigger budget) —  Jenko did a lot of parkour while Schmidt, well, he pretty much stayed the same in terms of physical activities. The itemized list of where the actual money was spent, injected somewhere in the script, was a brilliant move on the part of Hill, who co-wrote the script. It was really funny and underscored how tight the budget for the 21 Jump Street was (the first movie was given a production budget of $42 million while the sequel was greenlighted with a $65 million budget).

Ice Cube was given a bigger role in the sequel which was hilarious especially after it was revealed that his daughter went to the same college as Schmidt and Jenko. One of my favorite scenes was his character texting Schmidt non stop with life threatening messages.  Plus there were also a lot of cameos and even more gags in the aftercredit, which leaves the door wide open for a potential sequel.

All in all, I liked the first Jump Street movie better because it basically had more substance but the sequel was not bad either. 22 Jump Street offered no pretenses and just served up a buddy comedy that was very entertaining and filled with mindless fun. Sometimes, that all a movie has to be.