I don’t think any directors in America are taking as many chances in comedy as Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Every single film that they’ve made sounded like they would fail on paper but Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie were all hilarious films and thankfully, 22 Jump Street continues this trend.
The plot concerns Schmidt and Jenko who, after completely botching a drugs bust, are forced back into the Jump Street program except this time, they go undercover at university and whilst there, Jenko falls into the American football/fraternity crowd and Schmidt falls into the art scene. Throughout this, the friendship between Schmidt and Jenko is tested, to an incredibly homoerotic level (it reaches Hot Fuzz levels) and whether or not Schmidt and Jenko will continue their partnership becomes the main focus. Throughout the film, the incredibly self deprecating humour that characterised the first film comes back in full force, with the focus this time being on sequels with there being a lot of mentions over the needless extra budget for sequels in the hope that the film will make more money back and how the comedy sequel is never as good as the first. However, this actually doesn’t apply to 22 Jump Street as I laughed consistently from beginning to end, and not small titters, it was full belly laugh funny with there being a lot of great visual jokes along with brilliant puns and references to other works Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill have done (in particular, White House Down). There are also a lot of surprisingly touching moments regarding the relationship between Schmidt and Jenko regarding the changing nature of their relationship, although this does feel like a retread of the same elements of 21 Jump Street, although I’m pretty sure it was intentional. The best part of the film though comes with the credits and I don’t mean that in a bad way, they are hilarious and I don’t want to spoil how good they are.
A major reason why the comedy works so well is because of how good the cast is. Jonah Hill shows off the more awkward, lonely side of Schmidt in this film with some incredibly cringeworthy humour coming from Hill, along with a more sensitive side which really adds to the character. Channing Tatum meanwhile is hilarious as Jenko. He really plays up the buffoonish qualities of Jenko, along with the athletic side of the character, filling his dialogue with malapropisms and double ententdres that really work for the character with a lot of the biggest laughs in my screening coming from Tatum’s performance. It really helps that Hill and Tatum have great chemistry together, really selling the friendship these characters have. Ice Cube meanwhile has an expanded role here and he also gets some of the best laughs in the film. The new cast members are where the film doesn’t work as well. Whilst Wyatt Russell and Amber Stevens do good work, Peter Stormare and Jillian Bell feel completely wasted, with the only real humour from them coming at the end of the film and from the old v. young contrast of their characters.
On a technical level, the film is pretty good. Lord and Miller direct the action scenes with great flair, adding a lot of humour to the whole situation, with a lot of great visual jokes coming from these scenes whilst the overall direction in the film really highlights the humour. I also really like the design of MC State university, with the whole design being a pitch perfect parody of universities (with all of this being especially funny to me considering that I’ve just finished my first year at university).
Overall, 22 Jump Street is a brilliant time at the cinema. Whilst I won’t go into full detail in order to avoid spoiling all of the jokes in the film, the humour is top notch, aided by a fully game cast, in particular Channing Tatum, and brilliant direction from Phil Lord and Chris Miller with this film fully confirming in my mind that these two are the American equivalent of Edgar Wright and coming from me, that’s the highest praise I can give to American comedy directors.
My Rating: 4.5/5