Good things come in pairs; such as with the clever 22 Jump Street. The comedy is a complimentary companion to its surprisingly hilarious predecessor, but also acts as another sample of how filmmakers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are the kings of their goofball trade.
There’s no point for sequel naysayers to pitch that 22 Jump Street throws more of the same at its audience. It straight-up admits it! Part of the fun in watching Lord and Miller’s movie is seeing how the duo (along with Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel, and Rodney Rothman’s sly screenplay) turn the tables on sequel pitfalls. The film very much takes on the attitude of if life throws you lemons, make fun of the lemons.
These self-referential pokes come heavily and don’t hold back. Schmidt and Jenko (played by Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum) are given a mission to hunt down a drug at a college campus and find the supplier. It’s a task their deputy chief (played by the always amusing Nick Offerman) and Captain Dickson (played again by Ice Cube, who takes his glut of enthusiasm to a new level of insanity) emphasize is almost an exact retread of their first mission.
Everyone who’s returning has a smart aleck twist on their character; almost as if they’re all suffering from the same déjà-vu. During a limber chase scene through the quads, Schmidt and Jenko comment on how much of their villain’s destruction is going to cause their department’s budget to inflate, and Tatum even has a laugh-out-loud throwaway suggestion that maybe a future mission should entail them to protect the president in the White House. No one agrees.
What amazes me is how seemingly carelessly these winks are thrown around, yet they dodge ever being bothersome or smug. They fit within 22 Jump Street’s wisenheimer world where its humour runs on a sharp pulse – knowing how long it should beat before the joke starts to evoke obnoxious reactions.
Hill and Tatum still make a likeable and cohesive on-screen team who can intelligibly set-up and execute punchlines. The undercover role reversal in the sequel makes for more predictable outcomes (Hill’s Schmidt being the odd man out a lot of the time). But, Hill knows how to play his prat falls and when to taper Schmidt’s whininess. An added twist between Schmidt and his sunny belle make for gut busting results.
When it comes to the really dumb laughs between dimwitted bro mentalities, 22 Jump Street bumps elbows with Dude, Where’s My Car?. It’s a random inspiration to cook up some lunkheaded laughs – perhaps that’s this instalment’s most surprising element this time around. But, the silly energy that brews off of the bromances is happily infectious.
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller make it look so easy to make people laugh. It’s a particular knack that some sweat and strain to do, yet these two can make anyone of any age giggle. They had proven earlier this year that a a clean rating won’t hold them down (The Lego Movie), and 22 Jump Street shows that they’re just as fearless with a rowdy R-rating.