Movie Review #770: You’ll laugh even more than you did the last time around.
By Alexander Diminiano
|Action, Comedy, Crime|
|Rated R (contains profanity, sexual content, drug use, nudity, violence)|
“22 Jump Street” is a clever display of restraint as a means of getting more laughs. I’m referring to the way its characters are constantly acknowledging that it’s a sequel, and that it shares the exact same plot as its predecessor (“21 Jump Street”). Nobody ever truly breaks the fourth wall, but they’re tapping on the glass pretty hard. Contrary to many of our expectations, the acknowledgment of its sequeldom never seems to get old. In fact, I’d assert that the greatest such moment comes around the end, when Ice Cube warns Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill that their operation is now under a tight budget, so they need to cut down on chase scenes. Next thing you know, they’re rolling around the whole city trying to catch a fugitive, and as they manage to destroy everything in sight, they’re making a note of how expensive everything on camera is.
Though even if we forget all of this, it’s still rather impressive how good “22” is, given that it shares its premise with “21” in entirety, save for maybe one word. (In “21”, Hill and Tatum went to a high school undercover and hunted down drugdealers. In “22”, they go to a college undercover and hunt down drugdealers.) I’m even more surprised to be able to confidently say that the story is even better the second time around. The chemistry between Hill and Tatum seizes the movie by the neck. I’d wager that half of their banter wasn’t even in the screenplay, but it’s so entertaining. And I mean these two are bantering in any circumstance, whether it allows banter or not. They’re banter while they’re being held at gunpoint by five or so drug dealers. Some might describe this as “dumb humor.” Though dumb humor might give you a choice as to whether or not you laugh. With “22”, it’s often very difficult to stop laughing.
There’s also a certain twist that catches us all by surprise around the film’s midpoint. My policy with spoilers is that I won’t spoil it if it’s worth finding out about firsthand, and that’s definitely the case here. The script is brilliant in its repetition, and this is just another case, as Ice Cube doesn’t stop bringing back the twist. I’m still pretty impressed by the fact that this, as well as any of the repetition, never seems to get old. Michael Bacall, who wrote “21”, this time pairs up with Oren Uziel (a first-timer) and Rodney Rothman (“Grudge Match”) on the writing. The team doesn’t seem at all trustworthy, but it’s nothing short of what we want: a movie so chock-full of sex jokes and F-words that it almost feels like it was written by a twelve-year-old.
It goes without saying that Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, and Ice Cube steal this entire movie. Though some of the casting, otherwise, seems rather iffy. Amber Stevens plays Hill’s girlfriend Maya, who just isn’t all that interesting, not to us anyhow. Her past experience includes small roles in “Fired Up!” and “The Amazing Spider-Man”. Being that both of those are set in high schools, I guess it just wasn’t quite time for her to move onto college yet. Though the real miscast here is Jillian Bell, who is obnoxious, despite her small role in the movie. She also gave small roles in “Bridesmaids” and “The Master”; here’s to her getting nothing but small roles.
I had a great time at “22 Jump Street”. If there ever were such a thing as a “meta-sequel,” this here film is a paragon. My biggest hope, thus, is that more “meta-sequels” are produced as a result. ✴