’22 Jump Street’ Plays Safe with Riotous Repeat
If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Both The Hangover: Part II and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York were produced by that philosophy for better or worse. Now, directing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller are taking a page out of that book with 22 Jump Street.
21 Jump Street was an unexpected success in early 2012. Diverting heavily from the 80’s TV show of the same name, Jump Street benefited from the seamless chemistry between Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. Up until this point neither actor truly broke out of the mold.
Yes, 22 Jump Street at its core is a duplicate plot of the first one. But it has much more at stake this time around. Instead of infiltrating a drug ring at a local high school, Jenko (Tatum) and Schmidt (Hill) graduate to college. At least this time, the two don’t stick out as sore thumbs in this college setting.
The H.F.S. drug has been swapped out for “WhyPhy,” but the premise is still to pinpoint the suppliers an dealers. In another twist, Jenko befriends the jocks this time, while Schmidt hangs with art students. It’s not as fun seeing the cops blend in so easily. At least the last time, being in the wrong cliques brought in more chuckles. The age joke still linger on from the first film as well, but it’s not as well executed a second time.
Tatum and Hill are as good as ever, raising ridiculousness to a brand new level. But that’s courtesy of Lord and Miller’s zany screenplay. 22 Jump Street is self-aware of being a bigger film than the last. Many of the in-jokes address that fact. The only issue is it doesn’t know when to quit. We get it. Bigger budget. Wink-wink. More special effects. Does the humor really to lean excessively on this?
Lord and Miller are greatly talented. Look at Cloudy with an Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie. So why is 22 Jump Street taking the easy way out regurgitating the first film? The movie makes it clear that by doing the same thing again, everyone’s happy.
Ironically enough, the scenes that weren’t taken straight out of 21 Jump Street are the strongest. Early in the film, Jenko and Schmidt infiltrate a gang as stereotypical Mexicans. Schmidt eats up his ridiculous cover. Jenko, however struggles, calling himself Jeff rather than the jefe and spouting out names from Dora the Explorer. Too bad this scene came early in the film, because there’s plenty of catch-up afterwards to match it.
22 Jump Street trudges through plenty of unnecessary scenes before the big spring break climax. Like the opening Mexican standoff, there are few payoffs here and there. The action is ridiculously over-the-top for sure, but that’s the point. It’s not enough to push the film past the first film. That doesn’t mean that 22 Jump Street is a bust. There’s plenty right and plenty wrong happening. The novelty is wearing thin, particularly gambling with this easy rehash.
Ice Cube manages to stand out once again as Captain Dickson. For a side character, Cube gets so many clever and foul-mouthed one-liners. Tatum and Hill are better here than in the last film. Yet, Ice Cube walks in and owns scene after scene. And even if they’re shoved into the plot as a brief cameo, Rob Riggle and Dave Franco are a fine quick addition as well.
There will undoubtedly be a 23 Jump Street as hinted time and time again throughout the film. One can only hope that the plot’s tweaked enough before this franchise wears out its welcome. Sequelitis has struck a hard chord.