22 Jump Street is the rare sequel that may be better than the original
If you liked ’21 Jump Street’, the sequel will make you very happy, because it’s fantastic.
Ah, the sequel. Is there anything it can’t do, besides being a good movie? Sure, there are exceptions. Spider-Man 2 was pretty good, and Terminator 2 was about equal to the original, being a different sort of movie altogether. Of course, there’s always The Dark Knight to consider, which was amazing despite being a sequel. I really enjoyed all three Toy Story movies, but when it comes to comedies? I far prefer Gremlins 2 to the original, but other than that, I’m stumped coming up with a comedy sequel that’s as good as the original movie, much less surpassing it. There are a lot of hurdles there, retreading the same material so much it’s boring, retreading not enough so that people miss the original, just not being as funny, etc. It’s not easy. At times it’s considered to be impossible; look at last year’s Anchorman 2, which was funny enough, but just didn’t have the same “spark” as the original. But you know what? I think the streak may be over.
22 Jump Street is the sequel to 2013’s 21 Jump Street, itself a sort-of remake, but more a comedic retake on the classic 80’s cop show. The movie is once again directed by the dream team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who have a sort of absurd level of talent, directing everything from the magnificent cult show Clone High to the awesome LEGO Movie earlier this year. This time, the story is not so important. Yes, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) return alongside such great comedic turns from Ice Cube and Nick Offerman as cops that now have to go to college to investigate yet another killer drug. But the movie doesn’t let the conceit off easily, immediately poking fun at itself and other sequels viciously, to the point where it sometimes seems shocking to be part of a mainstream movie.
I feel like explaining the gags and lines would ruin so much of the fun, but this is just such a well crafted movie. From the intentionally generic “Metro City College” they attend to the fascinating take of gender politics I was honestly shocked to see. The movie does a take on sexual politics that straddles the line between phobia and acceptance in an extremely progressive manner for a movie. As for the plot, sure, it’s simplistic, but that’s not the point; this is about the laughs. And the movie delivers. I sometimes wonder about the intentions behind bigger movies, wondering if the creators had deeper thoughts or were just pumping out something as enjoyable as they could. But 22 Jump Street is an example of a movie where the comedy comes from both complexity and physical hi-jinks. It’s a sharply written, tightly edited comedy.
There is not a single bad note of acting here, although I wasn’t blown away by the fairly one note villain Peter Stormare plays. Still, you have the leads doing everything they did right the first time, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum playing off each other just as great as in the first movie. The love interest of Schmidt wasn’t exactly funny, but she didn’t really have any funny lines to say. The mystery may not be so enthralling either, and there isn’t the same level of danger or intrigue as the first movie, but it’s a fun movie beginning to end, making this an R-rated comedy I recommend for anyone who liked the first movie.
And don’t miss the end credits, which are probably the best I’ve ever seen for a comedy. And considering some of the other ones out there, that’s really saying something.