22 Jump Street
35 mm comedy
Directed by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Starring Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Ice Cube
Rating: 3.5 / 5
Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are pure magic together, if not a tad co-dependent in this warm hearted and funny bromance, the sequel to the box office phenom remake of the hit TV show.
Rarely have two pieces of a human puzzle fit together so well or as manically as in this film. That’s the central conceit and everything serves it. The number’s changed, they’ve moved across the street from 21 to 22 Jump Street another church which indoors looks like Iron Man’s dashboard. That dashboard has cost the police department so the boys are instructed to do everything on the cheap. No more expensive chases.
Jenko and Schmidt are the awkward cops, the bane of their boss’ (Ice Cube) existence and the adorable class clowns. They’re off to college undercover to nab a drug dealer and learn more about the illegal substance Whyfy. It allows intense focus for four hours – for studying – and then lets loose in full party mode and it’s a big hit.
Sadly, a student has died of an overdose prompting law enforcement to circle the campus. Jenko says he hears it’s around 24/7 and everyone uses it, but is corrected. That’s Wi-Fi. They’re pretty unequipped to be in college at the great advanced age of “over 30”.
Students and professors “cop” to them right away except for a blonde surfer sports dude who gloms onto Jenko in an unwittingly aggressively personal way. That’s the second riff of the film, the humour to be mined in the fun world of gay identify and gender issues. It’s a strange path but it’s certainly pushed to maximum extent. Not what you’d think would be a recurrent source of big belly laughs but they times they are a changin’.
Meanwhile Schmidt’s exploring the art world at college, the world of wine clubs and poetry, miles away from Jenko’s frenetic sports nerd workout schedule with his new bro the Dude. He finds a girlfriend whom we later learn is a deeply ironic choice. The partners are drifting apart even as they try to solve the Whyfy puzzle.
Organized outsiders are involved in the drug deals but these characters seem pasted on. The action is best between the college a kids and the cops, so these stereotypical interlopers slow the film’s energy. College dorm mates Keith & Kenny Yang (The Lucas Brothers) twins who talk in total harmony provide a lot of whimsy and fun and pleasant moments.
There’s a wonderfully meta moment near the front in which Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman) launches a riff on the success of the first Jump Street meaning the unit but we know means the film which he says no one was expecting and how it lead to the second and its hysterical. And no one has his dead eye delivery or glorious moustache.
Tatum is surprisingly adept at physical comedy, and while his uber pumped body sometimes resembles a mobile slab of beef, he’s mighty graceful on his feet. Sure there are doubles for the truly dangerous stunts, but he’s a fine specimen and does a lot of them himself. Hill’s stunts are necessarily underwhelming, but his great power is his skill of observation, and his wit. In a way he’s a mental gymnast, his power different but equal to Tatum.
There’s much to love in this well-made film, there’s plenty of talent and zing and love for the project. It’s also a good movie and blockbuster bait. Its layered gags are genius and the stars are summer magic.