Just because you know you’re a lame retread doesn’t mean you’re not a lame retread. Such is the lesson to be learned from 22 Jump Street, a self-aware sequel to the very good 2012 original that earns some early laughs before disintegrating into screaming matches and just plain unfunny, repetitive jokes. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum once again make for a winning comedy duo, but the script is a major letdown and the movie could have used some serious slicing at the old editing factory.
Hill and Tatum return as Schmidt and Jenko, the two unlikely undercover cops who are now assigned to infiltrate a drug ring at a local college. It’s the exact same plot device as the high school drug ring from 21 Jump Street, right down to the surprise villain. But that’s part of the joke and supposed charm. The critical error is made in not doing anything remotely new with the material and instead relying upon Hill and Tatum’s improv skills. One has to wonder if the script ever went beyond the treatment phase as scenes seem elongated and often without purpose. Early scenes prove to be effective roasts of big budget sequels and token action cliches, but the momentum isn’t maintained past the first act. By the time the two wind up in Mexico on Spring Break, 22 Jump Street has degenerated into a parody of a parody.
Though used in a larger capacity, the film does wring several laughs out of Ice Cube as the no-nonsense Captain Dickson. Nick Offerman gets more laughs explaining the obvious than most of the cast combined. The villains this time are a major disappointment, paling in comparison to Dave Franco and Rob Riggle from the original film. 22 Jump Street seems to want to have it both ways: make a lazy sequel, but be aware of it, therefore it’s okay. The plot and execution worked the first time around, but this is a fine case study for a little bit going a long way and the absolute necessity to change something. Anything.
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Length: 112 Minutes
Rating: R for language throughout, sexual content, drug material, brief nudity and some violence.
Theatrical Release: June 13, 2014
Directed by: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
Written by: Michael Bacall & Oren Uziel & Rodney Rothman. Story by Bacall & Jonah Hill. Based upon the television series “21 Jump Street” created by Patrick Hasburgh & Stephen J. Cannell.
Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Peter Stormare, Ice Cube, Amber Stevens