Writers: Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel, Rodney Rothman
Cast: Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Ice Cube, Wyatt Russell, Amber Stevens, Rob Riggle, Nick Offerman
Running time: 112mins
The lowdown: Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill return as Jenko and Schmidt, graduating to college after successfully busting high school back in 21 Jump Street. That film was 2012’s biggest surprise, so we’re happy to report the sequel earns 1st Class Honours in dumb, undisciplined, but smart n’ savvy, rude n’ lewd hilarity. It’s proudly the same as before, but with added bromance, soul-searching, frat houses and football. And a bigger budget. Go on… get arrested by the laugh-riot police.
The full verdict: “Do the same thing as before”.
So orders beleaguered Deputy Chief Hardy (Parks and Recreation’s Offerman) after a spectacular drug bust truck chase goes embarrassingly wrong.
Back then to 21 Jump Street. Or rather 22 Jump Street for tenuous, title-related reasons. And then it’s off to college for dumb and dumberer Jenko and Schmidt, tracking down another drug lord dealing deadly narcotics to the nation’s future.
Jenko joins the football team and discovers his meathead soulmate Zook (Russell). Much to the chagrin of Schmidt who discovers art and poetry and doesn’t want them to “investigate other people”.
Ice Cube is back with “a big ass raise to babysit you two fuckers again”, joined by Rob Riggle’s Mr Walters delivering a scene-stealing cameo offering Hannibal Lecter-style clues from prison. Basically telling them to do the same as before.
Saving all this from deja-vu is a total sense of deja-vu. 22 Jump Street revels in being a sequel to a surprise hit, goading the audience into writing it off as a cash-in with more action and money thrown at it.
Or as Ice Cube’s Capt. Dickson puts it, “I’m wearing a pair of $800 sneakers right now and you can’t even see ‘em”.
Running gags involving twins, partners, soulmates, and liberal use of split screen are also on hand to remind you how much of a sequel this is.
But hot off The Lego Movie, the original’s directors Lord and Miller aren’t really going to deliver an empty cash-in. This is frequently inspired lunacy, with rapid fire visual and verbal gags reminiscent of the Zucker/Abrahams partnership at their Naked Gun best.
One suspect helpfully informs us his high school football team were the “Plain View Red Herrings”…
Sure, there are a couple of lags in the 112mins running time (when the partnership experiences a rocky, prolonged break-up), but this rebottles the lightning of the insane original and pays homage to Benny Hill both in dialogue and on screen. Respect.
Double Oscar nominee Hill and six time Teen Choice Award winner Tatum still score high on the goofy charm-o-meter, their natural chemistry still burning a hole in the funny bone. The “open investigation” break-up scene could be the year’s cleverest bit of comedy writing, while a throwaway White House Down gag is easier, but delivers a good chuckle.
They also make spring break look more fun than Spring Breakers did.
And even the closing credits pack in more laughs than the entire indulgent running time of Anchorman 2.
Inevitably there will be a 23 Jump Street. What will it be? Something cool.