I mentioned in “How to Train a Dragon 2” review that the first film in that series was a bit of an unexpected hit. But, a much bigger unexpected hit was the 2012 comedy/reboot of 1980s TV series “21 Jump Street”. It’s a common thing to say now, how no one thought the film was going to be any good but it is true, no one thought it was a going to any good. What we got was something much different than what we expected. The comedy was the consistently laugh out loud funny with two terrific on screen performers in Johan Hill and Channing Tatum.
Recently we had another great comedy in “The Hangover”. The follow up, “The Hangover Part II” however was a significant step in the other direction. I enjoyed the sequel and gave it a positive review but fans and critics all around were less than kind to the 2011 sequel. Even though I enjoyed it enough to say I liked it, I can completely empathize with the people who didn’t like it and understand completely why someone wouldn’t like it. It was practically the same movie as the first one except not as fresh nor as good.
Before the recent release of the follow up, “22 Jump Street”, many fans wondered if this would fall prey to the same problem. This does do the same thing as “The Hangover Part II” did with some key differences. Although the script does follow the same generally premise as “21 Jump Street” plot point for plot point, the self aware nature of the script and the absolute consistent laughs, mostly provided through terrific on screen performances by Channing Tatum and Johan Hill, “22 Jump Street” is a winner from beginning to end. This is a sequel just as good if not at times better then it’s predecessor.
This sequel picks up right where the last one leaves off, with the two police detectives of Jump Street moving across the street to 22 Jump Street. Schmidt and Jenko find themselves undercover in College in order to find a new drug from leaking out to other places and going “viral”, once again as they find themselves once again hopelessly unprepared for and will also once again test their friendship.
I mentioned before that one of the problems of “Hangover Part II” was it essentially the same movie as the previous one. “22 Jump Street” repeats this, it is essentially the same movie as the last one. However there is one key difference between “22 Jump Street” and “Hangover Part II”, and that difference is the difference in the nature the script is written. “Hangover Part II” was written in a “here we go again” way that came off as lazy. “22 Jump Street” is completely self-aware that it is a sequel and is the same movie as the last and there for makes fun of not only Hollywood movie sequels in general are, but also of itself. “Muppets: Most Wanted ” earlier this year tried to do something similar yet got lost after the beginning of the film. “22 Jump Street” acts more like “Scream” did for the horror genre. It will take shots at itself and other sequels around it. This can all be summed up at the very end during the credits that full out makes completely fun of the seemingly never ending stream of film sequels from Hollywood. This is all extremely effective and made possible by co-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
Fresh off their success from “The Lego Movie”, Phil Lord and Chris Miller get right back to work with this and continue their streak of success that started with their first venture in the “Jump Street” world 2 years ago. Not only can this pair direct some terrific comedic scenes that will leave your gut hurting but they have greatly improve their skills at filming action scenes. The opening action scene is filmed using real stunt work and it really entertaining. Very reminiscent of the “Beverly Hills Cop” series. Very funny yet still also some well done action sequences.
Johan Hill and Channing Tatum once again take center stage with brilliant on screen chemistry. It is quite honestly the biggest appeal of this series. They are work well with one another and each balances the others out and have good comedic timing with one another. Johan Hill is as brilliant as he always is. More so here than he is in other studio properties. Channing Tatum continues to improve not as a comedic actor and just an actor in general. Without the brilliant performance of these two we might not even made it past the first entry.
The only gripe I have with this film is that maybe it is a few minutes too long and there is a small but noticeable period of time during the film where the laughs do subside. Then again maybe it isn’t a bad thing perhaps. It is after all a way to let my gut recover from the strain of laughing so hard.
With the amount of money this film is bound to make I’m sure we’re going to get a third one and this does make plenty of jokes about possible future sequels. The genre of Comedy I have always said has had the toughest luck and track record when making sequels. Most of the other genres that lend themselves to being sequels have a great number that work. In the world of comedy it is far and few in between that I am rejoicing that not only do we have another “Jump Street” film but also one that matches the first ones brilliance. By this time I’m sure I should be tired of the formula of these two “Jump Street” movies but I wouldn’t mind seeing just one more flick if Phil Lord and Chris Miller return. Plus through in some more Ice Cube, the more screen time he gets in this series the better.