Director: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
Writers: Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel
Cast: Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill
22 Jump Street is the sequel to the shockingly decent 21 Jump Street reboot from 2012, a film loosely based on the Johnny Depp tv show from the early Nineties that had no right to be any good. Two years later and we’re a little wiser with our expectations. It turns out that Channing Tatum does have an unexpected knack for comedy and he reasserts his talents in this film. The Lego Movie also cemented Phil Lord and Christopher Miller as a directorial pairing to watch. They are two talented craftsmen that seem to get attached to film franchises that sound dreadful on paper but are consistently hilarious in their execution.
22 Jump Street continues in the same vein as the original film, lampooning the unwritten rules of Hollywood blockbusters with a wry wink and a nod to the audience. Sequels have to do everything bigger and louder than the original. So it stands to reason that 22 Jump Street has bigger explosions, more outlandish gags and it cranks up the homo-eroticism tenfold. The result is comedy gold.
Hapless undercover cops Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) are given a fresh assignment by Ice Cube to bring down a drugs syndicate in college. What follows is the usual frathouse antics that you’d expect. Initiation ceremonies, gags about how old they look, drug abuse, alcohol abuse and Jonah Hill very awkwardly making the moves on a sophmore. The secret to the film’s success is not in its creativity, but in the sharpness of its gags and the uniformly excellent comedic timing from Hill and Tatum. This is a film that is loaded with physical humour, nerdy and shamelessly goofy in-jokes and is anchored by a friendship between the two leads who wear their insecurities on their sleeve with hilarious and heart warming openness.
The weird thing is that if you asked me to describe my favourite scene or one liner, I’d be hard pressed to come up with anything in particular. But what I do know is that between the Jump Street films and The Lego Movie, I think I just click with Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s comedic sensibilities. It’s never mean spirited and has an affection for the idiocy of its leads that reminds me of the finest Zucker comedies from the Eighties. I used to enjoy the earlier Judd Apatow comedies but found that they gradually began to grate on my nerves as they became too self-indulgent and saccharine. The Jump Street films are never anything more than goofy, tongue in cheek fun and thats the way I like it.
22 Jump Street should also be commended and remembered for having one of the best closing credit sequences in recent memory. We are shown a sneak peak of the next twenty installments of the franchise in which Miller and Lord lampoon just about every Hollywood trope you can conceive of to revive, reboot and remake licensed film properties. It is as funny as it is exhaustively comprehensive in detailing Hollywood’s creative bankruptcy.
2014 has me convinced that Miller and Lord are the new kings of Hollywood comedies. They have done amazing things with a movie about Lego and a frathouse comedy based on a twenty year old TV show. Imagine what they could do when given a chance to do their own material.