22 Jump Street REVIEW

Jonah Hill, left, and Channing Tatum in Columbia Pictures' "22 Jump Street."

Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are back in 22 Jump Street, the creatively titled follow-up to the 2012 hit-comedy 21 Jump Street. Based on the Johnny Depp-starring series of the same name, 21 Jump Street saw Tatum and Hill play two cops who are placed undercover in a high school, posing as students in order to bring down a synthetic drug ring. It was a huge hit, earning over $201 million on a budget of just over $40 million. A sequel was a no-brainer, and the results look poised to bring another payday.

22 Jump Street sees our two cops heading back undercover, except that they’re hitting college this time round. The first film had them looking for a drug dealer selling students a dangerous new drug, same thing goes here. The first film had their cool-as…Ice Cube (sorry) boss trying to keep them in line, same thing goes here. The first film saw our heroes joining different cliques and having their friendship tested, same thing goes here. You get the idea. Cue countless references to sequels and franchise building, which can be amusing when the film isn’t smugly telling you that it knows what it is.

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Basically, screenwriters Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel and Rodney Rothman know what worked the first time round and are confident that it will work again. Truthfully, it mostly does. This is thanks to our charismatic leads, as likeable as ever in parts perfectly suited to their personas, and the downright infectious comedic tone fine-tuned by directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie).

The plot ends up being the least important factor here, ensuring that it’s the friendship between Tatum’s Jenko and Hill’s Schmidt that keeps us interested. When the film isn’t juicing every gay innuendo possible, it’s wonderfully depicting this friendship. Jenko and Schmidt are great characters. They may be different in a lot of ways, but it’s their similarities that make them ultimate buddies.

Quips and gags fly every which way. Some simply don’t land, but most find their way to the funny bone. There’s a plethora of self-referential quips, stabs at popular culture, and jokes aimed for the puerile at heart. Apart from almost cockily rehashing the first film’s plot and a final act that almost feels tacked on, this is a comedy that should have audiences feeling pretty satisfied. There’s not much more to be said about a film this assured and confident about where it stands. It won’t blow you away, but 22 Jump Street will offer you a good time. More than can be said for many so-called “comedies” these days.

P.S. Make sure you stay for the hilarious gags that appear through the end credits.

THE REEL SCORE: 7/10

– G.T.