I don’t have a close relationship with 21 Jump Street. I don’t even remember if I’ve seen all of it. Even then, I could tell that this sequel was in many ways going to be a rehash of the original film. On the upside, however, another thing I knew for sure was that its two directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, are a hilarious and talented duo so I definitely had some decently high hopes.
Indeed, with films like Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and The Lego Movie, these fellas have proven themselves capable of inspiring laughs a plenty. 22 Jump Street, while not their finest work, still ended up being pretty darn funny too.
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are back as bumbling policemen Morton Schmidt and Greg Jenko. After utterly failing to arrest a gang of drug dealers lead by a man who calls himself Ghost (Peter Stormare), they are sent by their boss, Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman), to work at the 22 Jump Street program under Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) and take on yet another undercover assignment. A new drug called WHYPHY (“Work Hard? Yes. Play Hard? Yes.”) is being passed around on a college campus and it’s up to Schmidt and Jenko get to the bottom of it. Do we get a scene where they accidentally get themselves high on that very same drug later? I dunno, guess.
Going as undercover students, they meet all sorts of fun characters, some being prime suspects, others being friends and, in some cases, love interests. There’s Amber Stevens as art student Maya, Wyatt Russell as a cool football-player called Zook, Jimmy Tatro as Zook’s mohawk-sporting sidekick, and so on. There’s also a few celebrity cameos in the forms of Patton Oswalt, Queen Latifah, and several more that I won’t give away.
I was skeptical as this movie was getting started. It seemed as though it was going to be another stupid Hollywood comedy that expected me to automatically laugh whenever the characters were involved in a physically unlikely slapstick situation or just made a reference to sex or penises. Predictably, it worked on the rest of the audience. Honestly, though, as the plot progressed and we got to know more about the true nature of the WHYPHY drug deal, the movie started getting more exciting, more intriguing and more witty in its moments of outrageous humour. My favorite scenes are when Channing Tatum uses a drunk college bafoon as a melee weapon and any scene with Ice Cube and Jonah Hill after the former finds out something sinister about the latter.
The movie even makes fun of itself and the concept of sequels in general, not only through multiple funny scenes where characters lampshade the fact that this movie is fundamentally the first one all over again, but also through a really clever end credits gag that I won’t go into too much detail about. It’s pretty funny, that’s all you need to know.
As witty and thought-out as the humour eventually gets, though, this is still clearly made for a teen audience that’ll laugh at any low-brow penis joke you throw at them. My screening was full of teen boys that coupled such laughter with making weird groaning noises whenever they got to see a shot of a half-naked college girl and flailing their hands around whenever a popular party song started playing. Did you think tween girls squeaking during The Fault In Our Stars was bad? ‘Cuz I don’t so much anymore.
I was torn as to whether I should give this film a 3.5 or a 4, ultimately deciding that it if you can sit through the more effortless low-brow jokes, you’ll end up with a pretty good film, as well as a somewhat low 4. It’s exciting, has two lovable leads and is funny enough to qualify as a fun time at the movies. Also, if your personal preference happens to be comedy of the more typical and immature sort, you’ll probably end up with a masterpiece. Enjoy!