Director: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Peter Stormare, Ice Cube, Dave Franco, Nick Offerman, Rob Riggle
RunTime: 1 hr 52 mins
Rating: M18 (Coarse Language And Sexual References)
Released By: Sony Pictures Releasing International
Opening Day: 19 June 2014
Synopsis: After making their way through high school (twice), big changes are in store for officers Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) when they go deep undercover at a local college. But when Jenko meets a kindred spirit on the football team, and Schmidt infiltrates the bohemian art major scene, they begin to question their partnership. Now they don't have to just crack the case - they have to figure out if they can have a mature relationship. If these two overgrown adolescents can grow from freshmen into real men, college might be the best thing that ever happened to them.
Before you start accusing ’22 Jump Street’ of being more of the same, well writers-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller want you to know that they hear your lament. Yes, the duo whose Midas touch has made box-office gold of ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’ and ‘The Lego Movie’ are keenly aware of the Hollywood symptom of ‘sequelitis’, and so they have followed up their sly, self-referential reboot of the 1980s TV series with a follow-up that is even more meta, achieving in the process the rare feat of a sequel that is brasher, angrier and most importantly funnier than the original.
To be sure, no one expected the 2012 feature film starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill to become the runaway success that it did; but instead of a straightforward update, its helmers Lord and Miller decided to turn a police procedural of youthful-looking cops going undercover in schools and colleges into a self-mocking romp. With just the right amount of self-awareness and some inventive flourishes, the retooled ’21 Jump Street’ became both a critical and commercial hit, which of course is the reason why this sequel is seeing the light of day.
Tatum and Hill reprise their roles as the pair of bumbling cops Jenko and Schmidt respectively, who after bungling up the arrest of a wanted drug kingpin (Peter Stormare) find themselves assigned to a second stint in college. The address here refers to the location of their headquarters, now situated in a Vietnamese church located right opposite their last rendezvous point in the previous movie whose rundown exteriors are in stark contrast to the fancy modern-day surveillance equipment inside. Hardass Captain Dickson is still their superior, and as Ice Cube growls, “Nobody gave a shit about the Jump Street reboot. We've doubled the budget, as if that would double the profit.”
Yup, before you start dismissing it as more of the same, their beleaguered deputy chief (Nick Offerman) already warns Jenko and Schmidt - and us - “I want you to do exactly what you did last time.” You can’t therefore fault the screenplay by returning writer Michael Bacall and his new co-writers Oren Uziel and Rodney Rothman for placing our unlikely heroes into yet another shady drugs ring, although this time instead of bonding in the midst of their undercover assignment, Jenko and Schmidt find their bromance under pressure - as the fit, athletic and good-looking Jenko starts finding a soulmate in another jock named Zook (Wyatt Russell) on the football team, Schmidt finds himself snubbed and distraught.
It’s a classic case of the college break-up between our two high-school chums, but it ain’t without its surprises. Jenko’s distraction isn’t some hot chick, but a quarterback whom he seems to share absolute chemistry with - ‘bros before lesser bros’ according to him; and instead of hooking up with the nerdy crowd in school, Schmidt goes to excruciating poetry slams and finds a tender new relationship with sensitive arts major Maya (Amber Stevens), a relationship that builds to a hilarious turn of events at work. Before long, Jenko suggests to Schmidt that they “should investigate other people. Sow our cop oats”, or in less geek speak, meaning to go their separate ways.
There is no doubt - this is through and through Tatum and Hill’s show. As they had demonstrated in the first movie, the pair have a great double-act going, their disparities in physique and intelligence making them perfect complements whether they realise it or not. Sure, Lord and Miller amp up the homoeroticism between them, but there’s no denying the goofy, low-key warmth that passes between them whenever they interact with each other. Between the two however, it’s likely that you’ll fall in love with Tatum, who has never been more puppy-dog lovable - and as an excellent case in point, his blissful thickness can’t quite get more amusing than his delivery of a line about Cate Blanchett or ‘carte blanche’ in actual fact.
The rest of the casting is also unexpectedly spot-on. Ice Cube is in fine form as their surly captain, relishing the chance to go over-the-top as things get a little too personal between him and Schmidt. Jillian Bell is splendid as Maya’s snitty room-mate, whom Schmidt has the tough luck of waking up to every morning after he sleeps over. And though essentially extended cameos, identical twins Kenny and Keith Lucas are laugh-out-loud hilarious as a a perma-stoned duo who finish each other’s sentences. Together with Tatum and Hill, they make pitch-perfect satires of campus favourites, whether jock culture, the walk of shame or even the roommate you wish your date did not have.
With so many gags coming at you in record speed, it’s little wonder that the plot takes a backseat; nonetheless, Bacall and his co-writers manage to keep the mystery humming with some perfectly executed twists that keep you guessing just where and who the investigation is leading to. The finale is appropriately set in New Mexico, where our leads follow their cohort to for Spring Break, and where Lord and Miller crank up the action for some car chases and explosions in order to justify the bigger budget that this sequel has naturally commanded (hey you can’t pretend all of that went to paying the actors!).
But the show belongs undeniably to Tatum and Hill for their peerless chemistry, as well as to their characters whose mix of friendship, co-dependency and camaraderie. Their BFF homoerotic routine is unceasingly humorous, and the jokes are as meta as it gets without tipping into caricature. Indeed, this is a sequel even more enjoyable and entertaining than its predecessor, one that boasts more ingenuity, wit and derring-do than you would probably ever expect - after all, which sequel you know dares to burn its franchise boats in sharp satirical fashionby upending loads of serviceable ideas for future Jump Streets?
(By far the funniest comedy this summer has to offer, ‘22 Jump Street’ coasts on a delightfully meta attitude and the inimitable chemistry of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill)
Review by Gabriel Chong