So you’re making the sequel to a remake that was a huge hit. How do you avoid falling into the trap of just becoming a bigger, more expensive repetition?
Well, if you’re the creators behind 22 Jump Street, not only do you jump willingly into that trap with a loud whoop, you throw a big party in it and invite all your crazy friends.
And that is the genius of this movie. Right from the get go, 22 Jump Street tells you exactly what it is: 21 Jump Street, with a bigger budget. But who says that’s a bad thing?
With more of the first movie’s bawdy humour, goofy antics and most of all, the hilarious bromance between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, this movie is the very definition of the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Or in the case of Hill and Tatum’s shenanigans, “If it ain’t broke, put it in the movie and we’ll eventually break it.”
Things have, of course, changed since the events of 21 Jump Street (which came out in 2012).
Back then, newbie undercover cops Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) were a pair of bumbling man-children, who seemed to have little idea how to be policemen ... OK, perhaps things haven’t changed all that much. Well, at least this time, instead of going undercover at a high school, Schmidt and Jenko are heading to college!
The pair enrol as freshmen in a university to uncover the mastermind behind a new designer drug that has popped up in local colleges.
Campus social hierarchy, however, soon puts the two best friends at opposite ends: Jenko is welcomed with open arms by the football jocks while Schmidt finds himself left with the geeks. Jenko finds a kindred spirit in fellow football player and frat boy Zook (Wyatt Russell), while Schmidt struggles with love when Maya (Amber Stevens), the girl he has the hots for, only wants to be friends with benefits.
As they race against time to solve their case, Schmidt and Jenko find themselves moving further away from each other. Their friendship may have survived gangsters and gunshots, but can it make it through college intact?
The chemistry between Hill and Tatum played a major part in the success of their first outing, and it’s even more enjoyable here. Hill may have played the funny underdog many times, but his Schmidt is certainly one of the best incarnations.
Tatum, meanwhile, plays the not-so-bright pretty face stereotype for laughs perfectly. What makes these characters work so well is that both actors play them with a sense of self-mockery that makes every joke that much funnier; it’s like they’re throwing us a wink and a smile each time.
The script is comedic gold, speeding from punchline to pratfall so fast that you sometimes miss a joke or two because you’re so busy laughing.
And while the humour is frequently vulgar, like its predecessor, the jokes are never mean or offensive – like its lead characters, 22 Jump Street is often goofy but always good-natured.
Where 22 Jump Street falls short is in its supporting cast. While Ice Cube is back and hugely enjoyable as the always-on-the-brink-of-losing-it Captain Dickson, few other characters stay on your mind.
While new additions like Wyatt Russell and Amber Stevens are funny enough, they never reach the wacky heights of Dave Franco and Rob Riggle in 21 Jump Street. A side-splitting cameo by the two, in fact, prove to be more memorable than most of the new characters introduced here.
That’s a small matter, though, when you’re having so much fun; as the movie hurtles towards a big, action-filled, Hollywood sequel final act, you’re definitely going to be left wanting more of Jump Street.
And if the hysterical end credits are to be believed, there is going to be much, much more ... 2121 Jump Street, anyone?