22 Jump Street review

Review Simon Brew 2 Jun 2014 - 22:43

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum return in a sequel that comfortably matches its predecessor. Here's our review of 22 Jump Street...

If you had to find a particular fault with 22 Jump Street, and it's a really picky one, it's that it simply can't resist a joke. There's barely an opportunity for a gag that's passed up here, and if that's at the expense of a little bit of story, or pushing the fourth wall just a little further, then so be it. For as with its predecessor, 22 Jump Street is a Hollywood comedy with the emphasis on the laughs and some memorable characters, and it's not keen to let too much else get in the way.

On the significant upside? 22 Jump Street delivers an awful lot of those laughs. Even more, perhaps, than last time.

Picking up from where things were left at the end of 21 Jump Street courtesy of a handy recap that in itself gets the audience in on the fun from the start, we're quickly reintroduced to Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as undercover cops Schmidt and Jenko. They still look too old for this shit (there are moments where you see the film resisting the temptation to segue into an unofficial Lethal Weapon sequel), and as promised, the plan this time is to send the pair to college.

Not before we get a very, very funny opening blast though, that firmly establishes the rules of this particular sequel, and lays out pretty much what you're going to get for the next two hours. Brilliantly so, in fact. It's the same as last time, we're told. It's just going to be a lot more expensive. There's money in the budget for more gadgets and stuff, and that's money that the film proceeds to spend.

Hence, the base of operations has moved across the street to the bigger 22 Jump Street (although we spend very little time there), and this time, there's yet another drug in circulation that the usually-hapless central duo have to stop.

So Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel and Rodney Rothman's screenplay duly throws Schmidt and Jenko back into college, mixing in returning faces and new characters, a good number of whom are fleshed out more than you might expect. The film then undertakes a delicious drive-by of genre cliches, pulling the rug on them whenever it can, as it sends Schmidt and Jenko down slightly different paths.

Granted, it leaves gaps as it races between its comedy moments, not least in the actual plot, which isn't the first thing anyone seems to care too much about here. There is a ramification to this: there's actually quite a lot packed in here, pushing the film close to a two hour running time. It's in the moments where narrative takes precedence that you do begin to feel the length of the film.

Yet so relentless is the entertainment, and so densely packed are the laughs (you're never more than five minutes away from the next one), that the running time is easy to overlook. There's a surprising range of comedy here too, with sight gags, one liners, physical humour and long-lead set-ups all mixed together. Then there are enough film nods to warrant a second viewing immediately, right down to a Kubrick reference that pretty much makes you gag on the spot.

In fact, there's a real sense of people working hard for every laugh, which accounts for the high hit rate. Adam Sandler? Someone needs to buy you a ticket so you can see how this sort of thing should be done.

The film's highlight? That'd be Ice Cube. Promoted from his brief appearance in 21 Jump Street to a more prominent role this time, his Captain Dickson dominates every scene he's let near - no matter how little he may be physically doing in it. Whether he's smashing things up, texting, glaring, or barking out dialogue with an anger and rage that's a significant upgrade even on his scene-stealing work in the first film, Cube gives the best comedy performance of his career. 

As does Jonah Hill. With Channing Tatum taking on slightly more of a straight man role again (albeit given room for an abundance of digs at himself which he happily takes advantage of, and one wonderful scene that pretty much brings the house down), 22 Jump Street is surely Jonah Hill's graduation to the A-list of comedy talent. His physical skills, his pitch perfect delivery of a one liner, and his sheer likeability are exquisitely showcased here. Tatum too is strong, and the partnership at the heart of 22 Jump Street is one we're keen to see again.

Whether we get a 23 Jump Street remains to be seen though, not least because directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller pretty much set fire to the future of the series in a glorious end credits sequence (top tip: don't leave your seat until the very end). They gleefully burn bridges in a manner that we're not going to spoil here, yet in a way that can't help but remind you of Gremlins 2. Joe Dante would surely approve.

But if we don't get another Jump Street movie, then here, at least, is something impressive, very funny, and that rarest of things: a comedy sequel that's up to the standards of the film before, if not just a little better. It's the funniest film since The LEGO Movie, and surely has established - if there was any remaining doubt - directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller as the finest purveyors of mainstream comedy in the Hollywood system. Their editing skills alone are worthy of applause, but the sheer number of genuine laughs they've mined across their films gives them a batting average that's hard to beat right now.

22 Jump Street may be a little too long, and it's not going to convert those who didn't really warm to its predecessor. But for its absolute commitment to comedy, its huge laugh count, and for the best end credits sequence in recent memory, it registers as this year's live action comedy to beat. We suspect nobody will.

Just don't let anybody spoil its surprises in advance for you...

4

Disqus - noscript

Question for the reviewer: Could I take someone to see this who suffers from epilepsy? Didn't have too good a time watching Bad Neighbours!

It doesn't have the same issue as Bad Neighbours in that regard, if that helps!

No mad strobe lighting then! Brilliant! Thank you!

'It's the funniest film since The LEGO Movie.'

That's not a huge endorsement, TLM was OK, but way over hyped.

Anyway, nice to see a review that's not 3 stars!

'Their editing skills alone are worthy of applause'

Great to see this mentioned, so many comedy films are ruined by poor editing, either missing a beat where the punchline should hit or letting Jokes overstay their welcome, especially improv scenes that go on and on (a particular problem at the moment) Editing can kill a good comedy or it can elevate it to something amazing.

Didn't this film have two editors that weren't Phil Lord and Christopher Miller?

Very very pleased to see a comedy sequel get a good review!

I would have seen it anyway for this line alone:

"No one cared about a Jump Street reboot, but you got lucky".

Is it still Nick Offerman delivering the just about breaking the fourth wall speech?

'It's the funniest film since The LEGO Movie.'

Excellent endorsement. The LEGO Movie was awesome and hilarious and I loved it more than I might love a child of my own.

**** (my star rating for this review)

21 Jump Street was a very funny suprise. Glad that 22 JS matches it.

lol who cares

Someone. Somewhere.

I really enjoyed the film. I loved the meta-gags, Ice Cube was superb (especially when he realises what Jonah Hill has been up to with a particular co-ed), I loved the "Previously on 21 Jump Street" at the start too.
I stayed right up to the end (the "I'm late" gag). It was good to see another of the original cast return for a cameo (like Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise in the first). This time it was Richard Grieco. I would've preferred an OTT and funny death for the character continuing the jokes from the first film, but it was still good to see the TV series honoured. There was also Dustin Nguyen as Vietnamese Jesus in the drug trip sequence (in the TV series he was Harry Ioki). Steven Williams was also the commissioner (although imdb helped me out with that one as I hadn't noticed him in the film, the others were from the 1st season DVD set). Steven Williams is more recognisable these days from Supernatural as Bobby's hunter friend Rufus.

For some reason I never got around to seeing 21 Jump Street, but I just saw this movie over the weekend and thought it was pretty great, probably only one notch below Pineapple Express as far as action-comedies go. Definitely going to have to watch the first one soon.

Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill had really good chemistry, and the movie was enjoyable throughout. I also thought Hill had really good chemistry with Amber Stevens (who I loved on Greek back in the day). The scene at the poetry slam where they meet and also when they stay up all night talking while M83's "Midnight City" plays were great and really natural, an uncommon thing for movies like this.

Best of all was the end, the whole spring break action sequences with the Lamborghini and the helicopter were all great. I thought it was a nice touch that they actually got Diplo to perform on the beach and also thought all the fight/chase choreography was spot on.

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