22 Jump Street
Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Ice Cube
112 mins; Class 18; KRS
21 Jump Street, released in 2012, was a surprisingly well-made, critically and commercially successful remake of the 1980s cult TV cop show; so successful in fact, that here is the inevitable sequel.
Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill return as rather inept police officers Jenko and Schmidt. After posing as high school students to make a successful drug bust (in the first film), they are now asked by their superiors to pose as college students in order to make a successful drug bust… see where this is going?
What makes this sequel as successful as the first film is the simple but clever premise. Screenwriters Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel and Rodney Rothman give one giant and knowing wink to the audience and, not only do they acknowledge that is a retread of what has gone before, but make it part of the plot.
The film falters slightly in its subplot
And so, when handing out their assignment, Jenko and Schmidt’s superior (Nick Offerman) advises the partners that their next mission has to be as successful as the first in order to meet the public’s expectations. And they also have a bigger budget to play with this time round.
Jenko counters by suggesting that they should try something completely different and join the Secret Service (an obvious nod to Tatum’s role in White House Down).
It is a scene that perfectly exemplifies the sort of gags that makes this outing so much fun.
And it is here that the film works the most – the self-awareness and self-deprecation which runs throughout, the accompanying visual and scripted gags – which for the most part thankfully steer clear from lewd humour, and the fact that the film does not try to be more than it actually is.
Add to that are a couple of high-octave action scenes, which serve more to highlight the partners’ incompetence than anything else and the film is on a roll.
Tatum and Hill share remarkably good chemistry and both fall back into their respective roles of lovable if slightly dim jock and self-conscious nerd with ease.
However, although directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (directors of the recent Lego Movie) keep things moving at a brisk and funny pace, the film falters slightly in its subplot which finds the relationship between the two strained by college life.
Schmidt ends up dating a poetry-loving student, while Jenko bonds over football with a fellow jock. The film doesn’t work as well when they are apart; the pace flagging at points and threatens to fall into unnecessary schmaltz.
That said, the slightly comic, well-played running gag that Jenko and Schmidt are often mistaken for a gay couple is suitably funny and never offensive – as witnessed when they unintentionally end up in a couples’ therapy session.
It is entirely their film. Ice Cube is quite funny as their permanently bad-tempered boss, while Peter Stormare is a bit cartoony as the villain of the piece.
Funnier still are the closing credits – which give us a preview of 23 Jump Street, 24 Jump Street and so on… each snippet giving us a brief look at what to expect. It is very clever, and the presence of an actor often mistaken for Hill reassures us once and for all that the film-makers are having a big laugh – which they happily share with the audience.