The Critical Couple Reviews “22 Jump Street”
Watching movies may be one of America's most popular date-night activities, but it can also be one of the most contentious. That's where critics and real-life couple Roy and Adriane step in, putting their relationship on the line so you don't have to.
Back in his role as the grizzled police chief, Nick Offerman lays it all out for us. Nobody asked for a movie reboot of the TV series 21 Jump Street, it surprised everyone by actually being hilarious, and now that they've got a cash cow on their hands, it's time to milk it till the teats fall off. That's when Jenko (Channing Tatum) explains that he wants to tread new ground, to burst through one ceiling, then another, then another. Instead, this gleefully self-aware sequel bursts through the fourth wall, and then every wall after that. And despite its meta nature—with endless hammering on sequel tropes and unforgettable jabs at meet-cutes and red herrings—22 Jump Street manages to be detached and endearing at the same time. It doesn't just rehash everything that worked the first time, it relishes its own lazy plot. Smart move. It's the rare sequel that's precisely as funny as its predecessor, and I laughed myself sore.
The most surprising thing about 21 Jump Street was how funny Channing Tatum was. It's a real spit-in-the-eye to us schlubby guys that this beefcake Adonis has such crackerjack comic timing. But what's surprising about the sequel is that Jenko's big-dumb-lug act hasn't lost its luster, and neither has his bromance with Schmidt (Jonah Hill). The storyline—cops chasing yet another school drug dealer—shouldn't matter, because the movie certainly doesn't care about it. It's just an excuse to revive the Tatum/Hill chemistry, which, like everything else in the film, works like gangbusters the second time around. – ★★★ 1/2
22 Jump Street recycles the plot, gags, and character arcs from 21 Jump Street without apology, but with several knowing winks. In fact, some of the film’s most effective bits are the ones that reference its own sequel-dom. When the police department sends Schmidt and Jenko out on another undercover assignment, their deputy police chief encourages them to do exactly what they did the first time because it worked. Their department also gives them twice the budget as before, a sly jab at movie studios who sink boatloads more money into proven franchises. In an especially knowing nod to the audience, their new HQ is directly across the street from the groundbreaking of a new building—on 23 Jump Street.
But it’s more than just self-awareness that makes 22 Jump Street a success—it’s also the chemistry between its two leads. This time around, Hill and Tatum ratchet their bromance up to 11, playing it like a bickering married couple instead of partners. The two particularly shine in a subplot involving the college quarterback Zook (Wyatt Russell), whose close friendship with Jenko—forged over a shared love of lifting weights and opening beers with their eye sockets—instills Schmidt with the kind of intense clinginess and jealousy you usually see in a Lifetime movie. The duo’s relationship, like the rest of the movie, is heightened just a skosh more than it was in 21 Jump Street. I’m not sure where there is to go from here should 23 Jump Street get the green light, but I’d be more than happy to find out. – ★★★
Did you like the first one? Okay, you'll like the sequel. Perhaps you'll even like it more. No comedy should be 112 minutes, but this smart (not smug) rehash makes those minutes count, and the laughs are relentless. They caught lightning in a bottle, twice.
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