22 Jump Street (3)

22 Jump Street is so fast, so funny and so entertaining, it almost makes time stop. After watching the film, and without looking it up, I couldn’t guess how long the movie had been, because the whole experience was so relentless with its comedy and action. It’s exhausting in the best possible way.

The non-stop onslaught of cleverness is something we’ve come to expect from directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller. With this, their first directorial sequel, they’ve lived up to the huge expectations of the first 21 Jump Street. In fact, they might have gone beyond it. 22 Jump Street is one of the funniest, and best movies of the summer.

From the opening studio logos, 22 Jump Street grabs you. Mark Mothersbaugh‘s awesome theme crescendos just before the film slams you with its first joke, a hilarious prologue that leads right into a big action opening. We’re once again introduced to Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) still feeling great about their previous case and hot on the tail of another. That is, until they’re forced to go back to the well all over again. 

In the first act, 22 Jump Street lives off the fact its a sequel – and a straight forward one at that. There are lots of inside jokes and winks at the audience, giving everyone a very nice sense of familiarity. Once the guys get to college and start investigating a new case, the film goes so far as to even simplify itself further, making Jenko and Schmidt into the stereotypes the first movie rejected. This almost-too-comfortable stride is done on purpose because Miller and Lord want to lull you into a false sense of sequel security. By doing that, once the characters catch up to the real plot, your eyes will go wide with surprise that everything is not as it seems. This isn’t the simple sequel it was pretending to be.

More than a sequel in story to the first film, 22 Jump Street is a sequel to the relationship of Schmidt and Jenko. They’re closer than ever now and, when you go to college, things change. People grow apart, they grow up, and their friendship is the beating heart of the film. However, as interesting and rewarding as that is throughout, the balance of character, humor and plot ever so slightly gives the film some hiccups in tone and pacing during act two. That, and the fact the film is simply not as radically surprising as the first movie, are the only dents in an otherwise delectable treat. Which is fine, especially when Lord and Miller have the accelerator pegged to the floor from before the opening shot.

It’s also important to acknowledge as all of these subtle plot shifts and character development is happening, the laughs never stop. Laughs upon laughs. Even when there’s action or drama, there’s something interesting going on in the frame that makes you smile. Tatum and Hill are even more comfortable with each other this time around so, when they’re together, their chemistry is magnetic. When they’re apart, each reverberates with comedic confidence. Tatum in particular really blossoms as a comedic leading man in 22 Jump Street.

As for the rest of the cast, Ice Cube has a lot more to do this time around and is part of some of the films best jokes. He’s hilarious. Wyatt Russell, as Jenko’s new friend, is perfectly aloof but insanely likable. Schmidt’s love interest played by Amber Stevens is a great comedic foil bested only by her roommate, played by Jillian Bell. Plus, there are lots of cameos sprinkled throughout, both from the world of the first film and not, all of which fit in wonderfully.

I could go on and on about what’s good about 22 Jump Street. The film references ranging from Annie Hall and Benny Hill to Bad Boys, the choices of pop music, the fun uses of split screen all leading to one of, if not the, best end credit scenes of all time. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s a laugh out loud tag at the end of the credits too. Simply put, it’s a movie you want to watch again and again and talk about even more.

Okay I checked. 22 Jump Street is 112 minutes long. That can’t be right. Nothing that short can be this good.

/Film rating: 9 out of 10

22 Jump Street opens June 13.

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About the Author

Germain graduated NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Cinema Studies program in 2002 and won back to back First Place awards for film criticism from the New York State Associated Press in 2006 and 2007.

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