22 Jump Street (2014)

The faces of two men wearing colorful sunglasses, and holding guns up beside their faces. Above them the number '22' in red.
Same Schmidt, Different Year

Director: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Running Time: 112 minutes
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Ice Cube, Peter Stormare, Nick Offerman

It takes a brave film to interrupt a chase sequence in order to perform a Benny Hill gag, but we shouldn't be surprised considering who directed this film. Phil Lord and Chris Miller are a duo who have taken films that could easily have turned out awful, films nobody really want, and turn them into something much more brilliant than they deserve to be. 21 Jump Street is the best example of this, a film that could have easily been another brainless remakes of past TV shows, turned into one of the decades best comedies.

Following the success of their undercover assignment at high school, Schmidt and Jenko go undercover at college to prevent the outbreak of another drug. While there, Jenko makes friends with a football player that shares many of the same interests, and Schmidt meets a girl in the art scene, and the two question whether their friendship is what the two really want.

22 Jump Street could have been another comedy sequel that does the exact same thing as its successful predecessor, and it is that. The difference is that Miller and Lord constantly reference this, which comes off as both a gift and a curse. What begins as a smart gag that knowingly winks at the problem sequels face, unfortunately outstaying its welcome and serving to point out how unoriginal this film actually is.

The duo do a better job at referencing how 21 Jump Street was an unexpected hit, so the follow-up has been given bigger budget, with an updated base of operations and the Captain's office looking like a cube of ice. The best of the films gags comes in the end credits, poking fun at what directions any potential sequels could go multiple times over.

If this didn't get them girls, nothing would

Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill continue to be a fantastic duo, showcasing the wonderful chemistry that makes it easy to buy into the woes which inhabit the films running time. Ice Cube is given a larger role than the films predecessor, and as a result, becomes a more integral part of the storyline and is the source of much of the films laughs.

Peter Stormare leaves little impression as the films villain, who seems to have no purpose other than to reference the 90s, while the identity of his associate is underwhelming. Dave Franco and Rob Riggle make a return, which serves to slow things down and make poor jokes, especially one involving prison rape.

Sadly, the humor manages to be pretty hit and miss. We're treated to some killer lines and fantastic scenes, particularly one which showcases how fantastic a comedic performer Channing Tatum really is. But we're also left with a set of twins who add nothing, least of all laughs, and a slam poetry session which feels superfluous, at best.

22 Jump Street may be more problematic than its predecessor, but it still remains a joy to spend 2 hours with these characters, and when the jokes hit, they hit well.