Starring Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Peter Stormare, Ice Cube, and more, "22 Jump Street" sticks to the same formula that made "21 Jump Street" so popular, even if it’s safe, somewhat repetitive, and drains whatever material is left over from the first episode. Like many sequels, this buddy-cop action dramedy pushes the limits on just about everything by using over-the-top dialogue and actions, hit-and-miss slapstick humor, and parody to overfill this film with what worked the first time around. In the end, "22 Jump Street" is bigger, sillier, and more absurd than the first installment, but still manages to make the audience laugh out loud and keep viewers entertained.
Beginning with a “previously on” catch-up video, "22 Jump Street" picks up sometime after the events of the first film. After solving the drug case at a local high school and helping to revive a specialty division on 21 Jump Street, officers Morton Schmidt (Hill) and Greg Jenko (Tatum) are back on the streets fighting crime. Following a failed attempt to once again capture a group of drug dealers, Schmidt and Jenko are sent back to work for Captain Dickson (Ice Cube), now located across the street at 22 Jump Street.
After a college student is killed, they are given a new assignment to go back undercover, this time at NC State to look for a drug known as “WHYPHY” (pronounced WiFi). Schmidt and Jenko quickly adapt to college life, involving themselves in a fraternity pledgeship, the football team, drinking and going to parties, talking to girls, and more. Like the first film, there are many similarities, such as the constant comments about Schmidt and Jenko’s age compared to other students, another romantic involvement for Schmidt, and again befriending another main drug dealer.
One of the biggest issues with sequels is that the material is not fresh anymore, and in the case of a popular first film, the creators are doing their best to recreate what worked the first time around. In theory, there’s not much reason to change the formula if it’s not broken, but often times, the sequel can feel forced or calculated at certain points. This film barely expands past minor changes and simply builds on what was successful in the past.
However some repetition is not always a bad thing, as the chemistry between the main characters is pretty spot-on. Similarly, there are a variety of jokes and humor that appear to be meant as funny or come off a certain way, and the end result is some up-and-down comedy and unintentional laughs from facial expressions, character reactions, comments, or comebacks. In another sense, there is some humor that is intended to be funny, but comes off stale or misses the punch line, as well as some natural material that isn’t expected to create laughs, but ends up being a hit.
"22 Jump Street" appears to be a buddy-cop parody or spoof on the action/comedy/cop genre. There is a good amount of self-depreciation, making fun of each other, doing actions or saying things that are absolutely bizarre. These two completely opposite cops, both with their own issues, basically fumble their way through one case after another by doing things that a normal cop would never be able to do –- infiltrating the college party scene, playing for the college football team, partying and drinking with other college students, falling in love with the wrong girl, and trying to relive the experience they never had while halfway attempting to fight crime. The villains in this film are fairly ridiculous and when a gunfight takes place, not one person can shoot their targets or hit anything to save their lives.
This film features a lot of cameos and scenes with characters from the first film, such as when Schmidt and Jenko go to visit Mr. Walters (Rob Riggle) and Eric Molson (Dave Franco) from the first film, now in prison, to get help with their new case. There is also a series of scenes at the end of the film during the credits in which the film jokes about a third movie and teases different scenarios where Schmidt and Jenko go undercover to other types of schools, like medical school, beauty school, etc. Some of the bizarre and comedic content come from references to pop culture, metaphors, double meanings, and alluding to different things. Naturally, there is a fair amount of vulgar language, sex references and related humor, as well.
Hill and Tatum make quite the duo, and their previous credibility for quality comedy/action and the way they interact together is what makes "22 Jump Street" worth seeing. The film definitely plays up their bromance more so here than in the first film, and just like moving from high school to college undercover work, the pair has quite the growing up to do. All in all, this movie is quite amusing and filled with an array of differing content, which once again will most likely be a hit among audiences. I wouldn’t bet on a third film, but if the second one proves anything, there’s always more to explore.
Rated 3 out of 5 stars.
"22 Jump Street" is rated R for language throughout, sexual content, drug material, brief nudity and some violence. Running time is 1 hour and 52 minutes.
Hayden Pittman is a special contributor to WFAA.com and a freelance film critic and entertainment blogger out of Dallas. More of his content can be found on YouPlusDallas.com and his author archive here. For more of his reviews on WFAA, click here. He is a film, TV, and sports enthusiast, and when not writing reviews or covering an event, he works in film production. As an average, passionate film lover who rarely misses a film, his reviews are straightforward and his way with words will let you know in a simple way what he thinks. Don’t like what he has to say? Let him know at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @HPMoviePitt.