In the film, police officers Morton Schmidt and Greg Jenko’s police chief explains that going back undercover is “always worse the second time around.” He proceeds to use metaphors that mirror stereotypes of sequels. It’s only by the conclusion of the film that we understand the irony — “22” isn’t as tiresome as the original.
“22 Jump Street” doesn’t take itself seriously, not even a little bit, and therein lies the key to its success. I’m personally not a fan of these predictable films because the plot and creativity never lead the way; it’s all about how funny and entertaining Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill can be, and it turns out the audience thinks they are hilarious.
Back to normal cop duty after solving the high school drug case last time, Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) are recruited again to investigate a new drug hitting college campuses. The duo must reassume their identities and check in to their dorm.
Instantly they realize it will be much more difficult this time around, with crazy professors and smarter students. Jenko is instantly accepted onto the football field where he meets Zook (Wyatt Russell), who is the yin to his yang. Jenko and Schmidt begin to have partner problems and go their separate ways when they need each other the most.
Ice Cube (“Ride Along,” “Barbershop”) returns as the Jump Street chief and gets the biggest laughs of the entire film; a joke and circumstance that just kept the audience in stitches.
The concept behind these types of films (“Pineapple Express,” “This is the End,” etc.) is that the audience is built in; they have already decided before the film begins that they are going to enjoy it regardless of what is shown on screen.
That ideology works for a certain type of moviegoer, but I just need a bit more. When the most interesting concept in the film is the closing credits, with the characters spoofing themselves once again, you understand you’re not the target audience.
Stupidity is often funny, and the writers here understand that, especially in a scene where Jenko mistakes the phrase “carte blanche” for “Cate Blanchett.” I felt “22” was better than “21” because of a decrease in crude behavior; don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of vulgarity here — especially an ironic scene using the very word Jonah Hill has been apologizing for using as a slur — but the script does seem a bit more mature and compact than the original.
The drama and embarrassment Hill has created for himself off camera has been more entertaining than what I saw in the film. If you enjoyed the first film, you will love this sequel. If you demand more from your entertainment than forgettable laughs, I recommend skipping this.
Final Thought: Thankfully doesn’t take itself seriously and neither should you.
’22 Jump Street’
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Ice Cube
Dustin Chase is a film critic and associate editor with Texas Art & Film, which is based in Galveston. More reviews are available at texasartfilm.com.