That 21 Jump Street (2012) – a cinematic reboot of a vaguely remembered, Johnny Depp-starring eighties TV crime show – was met with the amount of praise that it was is testament to directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. It cannily mixed their particularly madcap sense of humour with a wealth of successful ingredients, not least a knowing wink. Fresh off the back of their critically and financially adored animation spectacular The Lego Movie (2014), the duo return for 22 Jump Street (2014), which picks up exactly where the original film finished and goes bigger, brasher, and delivers a hilarious and entirely satisfying follow-up.
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum re-team as bumbling detectives Schmidt and Jenko, respectively, high on the success of their graduating from the initial ‘Jump Street’ program and dedicated in their hunt for narcotics. However, after failing to apprehend a group of drug dealers led by Ghost (Peter Stormare), the pair are reinserted back into the program under the rule of Captain Dickson (Ice Cube), who puts them on an all-new mission. Going deep undercover at a local college, Schmidt and Jenko find themselves again having to unconvincingly masquerade as students in order to seek out the supplier of a dangerous drug that’s already claimed the life of an undergraduate. What follows is a mad dash to find the source whilst simultaneously navigating the opportunities and transgressions of college.
Stuffed with the type of meta-inflected jokes and scenarios for which the director’s have become known, as well as a range of comical and well-choreographed action sequences, 22 Jump Street is an extremely fulfilling sequel that nobody thought they wanted. Proving once again that theirs is chemistry capable of spinning even the worst material into gold, Hill and Tatum are uproarious this time round, both giving perhaps their funniest performances to date and being perfectly capable of keeping up with the comedic pace of a screenplay that mixes a cavalcade of pratfalls with goofy humour.
However risky repeating the plot – and many of the gags – of the original almost verbatim is, there is enough originality on show to make this entirely worthwhile, coming in the form of a new setting that allows the characters to once again live out the adolescences they never did, particularly Jenko, who may have found a new calling on the football field. In fact, the most appealing aspect of the film is the way it creatively mocks its own dearth of creativity, an excellent foundation for sophisticated comedy that culminates in a spectacular final coda which is only slightly tarnished by the announcement of a third outing in the works.
Edward Frost | @Frost_Ed