You know the old saying: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This usually is the model for comedy sequels, and more often than not it results in a familiar, lackluster film (see: “The Hangover Part II”). And here comes “22 Jump Street”, a sequel that once again uses the exact same formula as the first film; the only difference is it knows it.
Once again starring the perfectly paired Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, this time around the duo has a new mission: they must infiltrate a college in order to find the supplier of an extreme new drug that is posing a threat to teenagers (yeah, sound familiar?). Phil Lord and Christopher Miller once again direct.
Self-relevant humor, when done right, can be the funniest version of comedy (just look at “This Is the End”, “Seven Psychopaths” and even the first “Jump Street”). Much like how “21 Jump Street” knew it was an unnecessary spin-off of an old TV show, “22 Jump Street” knows that it is an unnecessary sequel, and pokes fun of that fact. It notes that Hill and Tatum’s second undercover mission now has twice the budget, and that they should investigate everything as they did the last time; the characters do everything short of turning and winking towards the camera.
The chemistry between Hill and Tatum is so good, it’s almost unfair. There may not be a pair of actors that work better together in Hollywood than these two, and there has certainly never been a better buddy cop couple. Tatum looks like he’s having the time of his life, and there is one scene where he parades around that had my sides hurting.
Directors Miller and Lord once again show that they are perfect for this project, as they insert sound effects and animation into the most random of scenes, and it only adds to the comedy, as if giving the audience a cue of when is the perfect time to laugh.
Because this is a sequel, the film takes advantage of every stereotype that accompanies sequels: from larger, over-the-top action scenes (exploding goalposts), to more colorful sets (the climax takes place in spring break Mexico), all the way to unneeded (but not unwelcomed) returning characters.
Now for all the funny self-deprecating sequel jokes, the film does make a bit too many (they literally say “just like last time” until the film’s final scene), and at times it does feel like they were beating a dead horse with the same one-line. There are also some plot points that are never resolved, but they aren’t glaring enough to ruin the film.
“22 Jump Street” is what every sequel should do, but very few attain: it makes improvements upon the first film while at the same time doesn’t ruin the legacy of the original. “22 Jump Street” is just as funny as its predecessor, and I would very quickly shut up and give Lord and Miller my money if and when “23 Jump Street” comes around…even if this film jokes that a third film may not be the best idea (culinary school, anyone?)
Critics Rating: 8/10