“I think we’re starting to get too old for this shit.”
22 Jump Street is a strange beast. At times, it feels like the film is going through the motions and following the same plot as the first one (which was clearly intended because, you know, that’s so meta dude). At times, it felt quite lazy, but at the same time, I feel like there was no other way to approach the sequel. So, by jokingly doing the same shit and making fun of why every sequel fails, this follow-up not only feels familiar, but is also a fun diversion at the same time. I’m still having a hard time understanding it myself, don’t worry.
Jonah Hill (someone who I feel could be a total asshole in real life) falls back into the lonely nerd role that he played for the first twenty or so minutes in the first film, and I actually liked that. Hill is much better when he’s not striving to impress with his fat jokes or trying to be cool, so for a while I actually liked him in this. As for Channing Tatum, I’ve always defended the guy, as I think he gets way too much shit as an actor. He was born for this role and I think tops his performance in the first one here.
The film also had a distinct “look” to it, something that most modern comedies fail to accomplish (or even try to accomplish). So what if directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord blatantly copy the look of Michael Bay‘s Bad Boys films? It actually works here, and from a filmmaking standpoint, it was much better than the muted and generic look of the first film. It also works because they’re clearly making fun of those movies.
Lord and Miller also mimic (mock) Bay with it’s “go big, or go home” mentality. Hill and Tatum are constantly making jokes about going over-budget or how people are just crashing into shit because it looks cool, which is always a dangerous path to take with a comedy. Thankfully, the meta feel of the film is just right and it doesn’t go overboard with it (at least I didn’t think so). Nick Offerman‘s on-the-nose dialogue runs on a thin line when doing this, but Offerman is talented enough to make the lines actually work, whereas in the wrong hands, it would have been cringe-worthy.
And I think that’s why 22 Jump Street doesn’t fall on its ass when it’s all said and done. Lord and Miller are clearly competent directors, but with this and The LEGO Movie, these two might have just made a name of themselves. They made an animated film that could have easily been titled Product Placement: The Movie, but these two instead turned the film on its head and gave us a modern day animated masterpiece. Now, they’ve given us a sequel that’s on-par, if not better than the original. And it’s a COMEDY sequel. Not only that, but they filled it to the brim with meta jokes and the exact same plot as the first film, which could have easily ruined the film. Instead, their “risk” worked. I’m not necessarily sure how it worked, but it did.
In other words, fuck you science.
“We Jump Street. And we ’bout to jump in yo ass.”
4 out of 5