Film review: 22 Jump Street

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum worked so well together the first time around and are just as good in the sequel, taking their bromance to hilarious new levels 22 Jump Street

(MA15+) ***

Director: Phil Lord & Chris Miller.

Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Wyatt Russell, Amber Stevens, Peter Stormare, Jillian Bell.

THE unlikely box office success of TV show reboot 21 Jump Street meant a sequel was always likely, and ordinarily a sentence with the terms “TV show reboot” and “sequel” in it would have sensible people running for the hills.

Fortunately 22 Jump Street is as funny as its across-the-road predecessor while still being smart enough not to take the whole thing seriously.

After a quick gag parodying the start of the old TV show and an introductory action sequence, the movie launches into a “meta” set-up explaining how second time around Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) will have “twice the money to do exactly the same thing”, even pointing out the obligatory problems bound to upset the relationship between the pair.

It’s disarming and also kind of charming that the film immediately points out its own shortcomings and turns them into gags – yes, the plot about two mismatched undercover cops trying to bust a college drug ring (it was high school last time) is the same as before but so what, here, have a joke or two at our own expense…

However, the plot is not why you’re here. You’re here (or should be here) for The Hill & Tatum Show, which worked so well first time around and is just as good this time, taking the bromance to hilarious new levels with an added “jealous lover” character arc for Schmidt and a humourous side serve of closet homoeroticism between Jenko and his new football-playing soul mate Zook (Russell).

Tatum’s knack for comedy and playing dumb is dangerously good and Hill has been doing these roles since his break-out in Superbad, but Cube goes perilously close to stealing the show in places as the Captain of the Jump Street division, as does Bell as the room-mate of Hill’s love interest and Rob Riggle in a returning cameo.

22 Jump Street knows the strengths of the previous film and unashamedly rolls them out again – the meta sequel gags, action movie tropes as jokes, the odd-couple pairing of its stars. The college setting means we get the usual American college movie bits, like spring break, frat parties, and initiations, but there are some more unlikely laughs to be found here as well, such as in a slam poetry session, public art, and the walk of shame after a big night.

Lord & Miller (Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, The Lego Movie) aren’t afraid to be a bit daring with their choices either, whether it be using on-screen graphics during a weird equipment checklist scene or a sight gag referencing Benny Hill or a crazy hallucination sequence or even a tiny ‘ding’ that can be heard just before Jenko finally catches up on what’s going on just prior to the film’s funniest sequence (which had the audience in stitches).

22 Jump Street isn’t perfect or ground-breaking or even especially memorable, but it’s fantastic dumb fun and actually kind of clever in its own post-modern way.

It’s unlikely Lord & Miller and Hill & Tatum could sustain this three-star level for another film, but this is something they’ve already taken into consideration – the end credits are full of an entertaining list of sequels and spin-offs that not even they would be game enough to make.

But then again, Hollywood is not one to leave a cash cow alone for long, so who knows – 23 Jump Street, anyone?

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