22 Jump Street is a sequel which would’ve fallen flat if not for its self-awareness of its sequel status. The movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, and because of that, it holds up well in comparison to its predecessor. That doesn’t mean, however, that it is as good as the first.
Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are given a new assignment, or rather, the same assignment by Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) to go undercover, but this time at a college. The goal is the same, though–“infiltrate the dealer, find the supply.” This time, it’s a new drug going around called “WHYPHY” (pronounced wi-fi), which one girl has died from already. It isn’t as easy for them to find as they thought, despite Jenko claiming, “people say WHYPHY is available everywhere 24/7,” to which Schmidt replies, “Are you sure they don’t mean wi-fi?” Honest mistake, really. Their search for the supply and the dealer lead them on a mission to get close with a couple football players, who may or may not be involved. Jenko ends up becoming really good friends with a football player named Zook (Wyatt Russell), who is just like him, resulting in the inevitable jealously of Schmidt due to fear of losing his bro. As the case goes on, they become more distant, just as they did in the first movie when Schmidt found a new friend in Eric (Dave Franco). In the meantime, Schmidt finds a new girl (Amber Stevens) and meets her crazy roommate (Jillian Bell), who has enough old jokes to last her all day.
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum really are a fun comedic duo to watch. They work so well together, and you can tell they have fun doing what they’re doing. They really are the best part of both movies. I must say, though, I’m not understanding the reviews saying that this movie is way better than the first. In my opinion, it doesn’t have as many laughs, and even though it admits the story is completely recycled, the self-awareness doesn’t fully make up for its lack of freshness, but it does save it from being a total flop. It’s like watching a movie that made a spoof of itself. Even Ice Cube’s character in the movie says to Jenko and Schmidt, “Do exactly what you did last time,” and that’s exactly what happens. The only differences being that it’s college instead of high school, and instead of Schmidt finding a new “bro” he enjoys being with, it’s Jenko’s turn to trade in Schmidt’s company for a new bro.
The other problem I had with it is I feel like most of the really funny stuff was shown in the trailer, and since I’ve seen the trailer a bunch of times, the jokes were already pretty stale by the time I saw the movie. A lot of it seems forced, and even though Tatum and Hill worked just as well together in this one as they did in the last, it just wasn’t enough for me to say that it’s “better than the first.” But like I said, the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously and it is painfully aware of what it is, and doesn’t try to be anything more. Even in the end credits it makes fun of itself by showing all the hypothetical ridiculous sequels that can be made from this movie, like “23 Jump Street: Medical School.” There are also a lot of lines in the movie, which are obviously only there to mock itself, like when Ice Cube’s character mentions that 22 Jump Street was given a bigger budget, as you can see by the decked out quarters of the Vietnamese Church across from the old 21 Jump Street Korean Church (bigger budget…bigger movie budget, get it? Ha ha).
The main actors are the best thing about both 21 and 22 Jump Street. Obviously, Hill and Tatum are great. I also love Ice Cube. He’s just so over the top, but it works for him, and he steals every scene he’s in. There’s a small twist in the movie that involves him, and his reaction to it is priceless, that’s probably the best part of the movie, in my opinion. Then, there was a single short scene of Hill and Tatum visiting their old gym teacher (Rob Riggle) and Eric in prison. Those two were the hilarious bad guys from 21 Jump Street of whom I actually started to miss while watching this movie. Peter Stormare’s character and “the Mexican Wolverine” just wasn’t doing it for me. Neither was Jillian Bell’s excessive jokes about how old Schmidt looks (apparently everyone who goes to college is only 19?)
In the end, I think a lot of my disappointment stems from the fact that there were so many reviews saying that this movie is so good and even funnier than the first, which I ended up not agreeing with. It was good, but not that good. I absolutely loved 21 Jump Street and I even went and saw it twice in theaters (that’s rare for me). So this one had a lot to live up to. So to anyone going to see it this weekend, I would say if you loved the first one, don’t go in with too high of hopes that this is going to surpass it. Maybe you’ll agree and maybe you won’t. Either way, there are some laughs, and the chemistry between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum hasn’t changed. They are still very entertaining to watch together, regardless of the story. I’ll give the movie credit for admitting to what it is–a bigger budgeted, recycled version of the same story.