Guess what? I’m one of the few who didn’t like the original, and I think the sequel is the kind of laugh-riot you see only happen once every few years. 22 Jump Street is a collision of big oversized egos and sensitively hurt egos, with Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill reprising their roles as cops Jenko and Schmidt, going undercover at school for a takedown of the new drug Whyphy – not to be confused with WiFi internet. There’s about three hundred jokes in the movie, that’s nearly three a minute. Much of the humor is crude and crass, vain and boastful, whiny and attention whoring. In addition, there’s college superficiality and immaturity you would need to relate to in order to find it funny.
Then there’s a second line of humor, more sophisticated, about it being a self-aware sequel. Notably, “Gremlins 2: The New Batch” (1990), “Scream 2” (1996), “Ocean’s Twelve” (2004), or “Muppets Most Wanted” (2014) were examples of the meta sequel with constant commentary about how sequels never measure up to the original and how the proven formula is recycled. Indeed loudly and proudly, “22” recycles the same attitude and tone, even the same plotline, of the original.
It might have been all too similar if you didn’t get the underlying satire of sequel commentary. But the filmmaking is bigger, bolder, brasher and how can I say this – totally confident and professional. When things crashed and exploded in the original, there was a lack of confidence. Phil Lord and Chris Miller are the two co-directors of both films, but while the first time they sort of wheezed around the satire as if they weren’t sure it was going to work, they now have upped the energy and momentum full-throttle. “22” is a nasty, push the barriers, foul-mouthed screwball farce.
Ice Cube returns as Captain Dickson of the special squads division, and this time he is provided a wife and daughter accessories. Dickson busts some chops as usual, but this time he is a given a real motive to be angry about. Of course he gets on their cases. Tatum and Hill are worst with their police work as ever (it seems), and just like last time they are preoccupied about fitting in. Tatum gets initiated with a frat and becomes a football star (should he quit the police force and become Varsity?), and Hill just wants to get through a poetry slam and get the new girl to like him. She likes him (sort of). But the frat really doesn’t. But Tatum and Hill are brothers, as they say, and so the frat reluctantly is willing to induct Hill only because they don’t want to separate them. But Hill never fits in.
Tatum is a lunkhead built for kegstands and football heroics. The surprising discovery of “22 Jump Street” is the hilariously virile Wyatt Russell (son of actor Kurt Russell), the fraternity house stud and football team quarterback who is a perfect bro-mate to Tatum. This leaves Hill in the dust, who is a would-be cop who is only half-good at everything. Hill thinks Russell is the prime suspect, leaving Tatum in disbelief. This leads to the movie’s best line, “Maybe we should just investigate other people.” Tatum and Hill are, of course, like an old married couple who need some time apart. In time, they will need each other again, but only after they jump through some hoops for each other (I mean this as a euphemism). But wow, is Russell a major comedy star in the making? He’d be perfect for a “Bill & Ted” reboot.
It’s inevitable these days for an R-rated comedy yukfest to bring dick jokes into the forum, and in my paneled judgment, “22” has some good ones and then two too many. Not a bad batting average. It’s the sex jokes that don’t bring up the word “penis” that I like, because they are actually so precious and poignant, it had me gushing in my seat. Because the jokes are about these two feeling wanted, and the insecurity of abandoning their kinship because of unsewn desires elsewhere.
Tatum’s not really looking for sex in the frat, but you know metaphysically, he really is. Hill is, of course, looking for sex. The morning after shagging a co-ed, he goes home a little hurt after it’s spoiled. Once spurned, he goes insanely jealous. He doesn’t want Tatum to have sex with anybody else. Metaphysically that is. It’s not necessarily sex specifically, it’s having good times with somebody else that bugs him.
Are you getting the idea of how unbelievably goddam funny this movie is? As long as you’ve got an appetite for crude humor, this is the three-potential-laughs-a-minute comedy you’ve been waiting for. And “22 Jump Street” probably has the funniest end credits of all time since it never gives up, keeps going, and lasts beyond where you thought it would go.
Dave Franco, Rob Riggle, Nick Offerman, Amber Stevens, Jillian Bell, and Peter Stormare as The Ghost, co-star.
112 Minutes. Rated R.
COMEDY / LATE TEENS & UP / FRIDAY NIGHT BLOCKBUSTER
Film Cousins: “Adaptation” (2002); “Starsky & Hutch” (2004); “Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny” (2006); “21 Jump Street” (2012).