I know what you’re thinking: 22 Jump Street? Clearly just a cheap attempt at making money off a solid franchise. Well, the filmmakers know you’re thinking that too.
Action comedies can often be fairly brainless, but those who have watched 21 Jump Street know that it’s filled with knowing winks to the audience, as well as some magnificent subversions of tropes. 22 Jump Street does the same, and of course, it knows it’s a sequel. Expect a lot of playing with tropes, as well as some straight up fourth wall breaking (and a lot of lampshading of sequels being exactly the same as the original).
However, 22 Jump Street doesn’t just lampshade, it also makes good on its lampshading. In 21 Jump Street, jock Jenko (Channing Tatum) and nerd Schmidt (Jonah Hill) become unlikely friends in police academy. They end up in the Jump Street division, which sends youthful-looking officers to infiltrate high schools, and they eventually bust a drug ring led by classmate Eric (Dave Franco).
In this sequel, the police continuously order Jenko and Schmidt to do exactly the same thing they did in their last drug investigation, but of course, things don’t go to plan. There are still elements of the original film: car chases, explosions, and red herrings aplenty (as well as one literal red herring), but the film is markedly different from the first, so don’t expect a half-hearted, unoriginal, money-grubbing film.
(As a quick sidenote, if you haven’t watched 21 Jump Street, you will still be able to enjoy this film – it starts with a ‘previously on…’ which is obviously a play on the fact that these films are based on the 80s show that catapulted Johnny Depp to teen stardom.) That’s just the first of many knowing winks the film gives to the audience. This is how you write clever comedy, people! Take notes!
Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill have explosive chemistry in this film, and it’s put to good use here. It’s not the first time that two guys’ friendship has been compared to an actual romance (hence of course, the term ‘bromance’), and you’ll be hard pressed to find a more explicit bromance – there are longing looks, people who come between them, and of course the heartfelt resolution. It’s done so well too, with a very talented supporting cast consisting of Ice Cub as the hilariously angry Captain Dickson, Wyatt Russell as Zook, Jenko’s “bro”, Amber Stevens as Schmidt’s friend Maya and Jillian Bell as Maya’s caustically unimpressed roommate.
If you’re my age, you might remember that Channing Tatum did a couple of (pretty average) teen romantic comedies, She’s The Man and Step Up. All I can say is, I’m glad he moved into comedy, because he is hilarious: highlights are his hilarious “improvisations” in front of criminals, most of his interactions with Jonah Hill’s character, and a few others that I can’t spoil – suffice to say that you’ll know it when you see it. In fact, almost every character in this film has a moment of comedy gold, and some with several. Some of the best scenes include pretty much every scene Ice Cube’s in, every one liner Mercedes (Jillian Bell) throws at Schmidt, real life twins Kenny and Keith Lucas as Schmidt and Jenko’s corridor neighbours Kenny and Keith and the very tongue-in-cheek credit sequence. Honestly, there are just too many to list.
Really, the question is not whether you should go see 22 Jump Street, but whether you’ve watched 21 Jump Street first.