‘22 Jump Street’ is quite simply one of the best comedy sequels of this generation. With Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum reprising their roles as undercover cops Schmidt and Jenko, ‘22’ does right what so many recent follow-ups to beloved comedies have done wrong.
In the same way that its surprisingly successful predecessor overcame what initially appeared to be a predictably generic plot with stock characters, ‘22’ presents us with scenarios we feel like we’ve seen a hundred times before, only to turn our expectations upside down with hilarious results.
This is not to say that ‘22’ is a perfect film, or even better than the original, but these subversions of the genre make for a surprisingly compelling narrative, while the setting transition from high school to college changes the formula just enough for the film to feel fresh, despite the fact that it’s really the exact same movie.
And it’s no secret that ‘22 Jump Street’ is the same movie as its predecessor. The filmmakers go to great lengths to impress this fact upon the audience as they layer the film with even more of the same self-referential metahumor that drove the original.
Early on, the boys’ police chief explains that the success of the Jump Street reboot has led the department to invest a lot of money to make sure it keeps going. The bigger budget means they’ll be moving their headquarters across the street to ‘22 Jump Street’ (we see a construction banner in the adjacent lot advertising 23 Jump Street: Coming Soon).
Inside we find Ice Cube, better than ever in his reprised role as the angry black Captain Dickson. Dickson informs Schmidt and Jenko that they will be going undercover as college students to find the source of a new drug: “It’s the same case, do the same thing.” Newcomers to the cast include the beautiful Amber Stevens, “Workaholic’s” Jillian Bell and YouTube star Jimmy Tatro in a role that shouldn’t be hard to guess.
These characters add new life to Schmidt and Jenko’s exploration of the perfunctory college tropes; everything from pledging a fraternity, to playing a sport, going on Spring Break in Mexico and living in dorms.
The boys must also overcome the general difficulties of looking much older than the students around them, and the tensions of working together, best depicted in a scene where a counselor provides relationship advice without understanding the nature of their “partnership.”
Every star gets a chance to shine, but it’s Hill and Tatum’s chemistry that holds the film together, elevating its content to a level of comedic greatness that manages to remain both good-natured and tasteful, at least as far as Jonah Hill movies go.
The film also has an end credit scene to end all end credit scenes. I won’t spoil it, but rest assured that between the credit sequence and ‘22’s’ box office dominance, we could be seeing Jump Street movies for a long time to come.
The only problem is, ‘22’s’ satirical self-awareness towards sequels may not have left any new ground for future projects to cover.