22 Jump Street
Something’s familiar. 22 Jump Street is 21 Jump Street gone undercover, with slight upgrades in budget and meta humor. The sequel directly takes the storytelling formula from the first and plays around with it minimally, but still manages to deliver the same, if not a bigger, amount of laughs.
Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill have enough comedic chemistry that they could probably compete with the likes of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, and both have improved since last time. Tatum especially, who so carefully and cleverly plays the buffoon cop Greg Jenko, who loves to dance and climb buildings but hates to improvise. Hill’s Morton Schmidt is more of the brains of the operation, which is pretty terrifying considering his slam poem dedicated to late college student Cynthia amounts to “Cynthia is dead now” repeated a few times. And he’s supposed to be the one who’s good at improvising.
Following the story pattern of the first film step by step, Jenko and Schmidt go undercover to investigate a drug ring (though this time they’re college students, since most people saw through their disguises last time, and again this time) after failing to arrest some crooks in the real world. After directly informing the audience of their dorm supplies, the duo get involved with collegiate activities to remain in character, but unlike last time it’s Jenko’s time to shine. They try out for the football team and get selected to rush for a frat, both of which predictably go well for Jenko and leave Schmidt moping in the dorm.
Or maybe it works out well for Schmidt, driving him to the company of art major Maya (Amber Stevens), his first girlfriend, probably. Then again, maybe it doesn’t work out, because Jump Street leader Captain Dickson (Ice Cube), up in his new expensive office resembling a large cube of ice, demands the relationship be terminated for certain, hilarious reasons we’ll call Schmidt being unprofessional. Dickson isn’t the only person who looks down on the relationship, as Maya’s truly hateful roommate Mercedes (Jillian Bell), who clearly sees through Schmidt’s disguise and despises him for it, shows up randomly and with a creative onslaught of insults each time.
Jenko and Schmidt only get funnier as their disagreements get more and more serious, even if their version of ‘serious’ is trying to float away from each other on an animated volcanic island they hallucinate while inadvertently taking the drugs they are supposed to bust (for the second time in a row). If they’re going to find the dealer, they’re going to have to overcome their differences and work together. Again.
The jokes are plentiful (Rob Riggle and Dave Franco reprise their roles in a truly glorious cameo, one of the film’s best scenes) and are often self-referential. After learning Jump Street spent their entire budget on big new sets such as Dickson’s cube of ice, Jenko and Schmidt try to spend as little money as possible in a car chase across campus, though of course they end up destroying the robotics lab instead of simply turning into the parking lot.
The credits roll over self-deprecating teasers for at least 15 upcoming Jump Street sequels, in which Jenko and Schmidt go undercover at med school, dance academy, outer space, and any other educational setting you can think of. It also foresees a contract dispute in which Seth Rogen will have to take over Hill’s role for at least one movie. Hopefully this doesn’t rule out the possibility of an actual third installment, because I am definitely ready to lease a condo on 23 Jump Street.