Wednesday, 16 July 2014
22 Jump Street (2014)
22 Jump Street (2014)
Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller; Starring Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube
How many sequels have been accused of basically repackaging the last film we saw and charging us the price of a cinema ticket once again? That’s Hollywood, but at least Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, the directorial duo behind the first 21 Jump Street and the seminal The Lego Movie (which also came out this year – these guys have been busy), are acutely aware of this and unafraid of letting us know that they know.
The first 21 Jump Street (2012) took its name from the address of the old church in which the operation was headquartered. Right off the mark, the Ocean’s Eleven-style sequel numbering lands us across the street at number 22 which, mocking the often inflated budget of Hollywood sequels, is an even bigger church, kitted out with a king’s ransom in expensive looking surveillance equipment, and a chief’s office that looks like a ‘giant cube of ice’ – cue the derisive Captain Dickson (Ice Cube).
Our ‘heroes’ Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are cops and buddies, as close as two straight guys can be, and their bromance is truly something to behold. Their relationship was solidified on screen in the first film and provides the central conflict of the sequel – all other characters in the film are sent to test it.
The whole thing’s pretty consistently hilarious. Hill and Tatum are fine comedic actors who carry the film well. It’s not perfect, but there are some great gags peppered throughout (from Jonah Hill’s impersonation of a Latino gangster to Ice Cube losing his cool at a buffet), and a slew of more subtle shout-outs for the perceptive filmgoer.
A lot of the humour is drawn from the general self-aware ribbing, and even when it’s not directly commenting on the budget or the sequelitis, it’s ripping apart the clichés of college movies, action movies, and buddy cop movies.
Much is made of the fact that the characters are going to have to do the same thing once again: infiltrate an educational establishment to root out drug dealers. They’re looking a little old for high school now, so they’re off to college in all its clichéd frat partying, football playing, hard drinking, spring breaking glory.
Their emotional strife pans out similarly to last time, but with some role reversal. Jenko’s natural jock status was subverted in 21 Jump Street, when he found that the modern high school student is more receptive to the book smart sensitivity embodied by Schmidt. Here it’s played straight, as he effortlessly slides into the frat boy dynamic and finds a new best bro, leaving Schmidt by the wayside.
The plot might be formulaic, but this film revels in it. It’s a very easy film to watch and plays like a farcical lesson in making a comedy sequel. As the main goal of a comedy is to make you laugh; to this end, it delivers.