Movie Review: 22 Jump Street (2014)
I liked the beginning and the end. I was often bored with the rest.
“22 Jump Street,” the sequel to 2012’s “21 Jump Street,” which was itself based upon the 1980s TV series of the same name, begins in the fashion of a TV show: a voiceover intoning “On the last episode of ‘Jump Street’ ...” followed by various scenes from the first movie: how Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) met, how they became friends, how they became members of “Jump Street” and infiltrated a high school to take down the dealer and supplier of a new “designer drug.” Oh, and one additional scene that wasn’t in the last movie: the two men attempting to cook lobster at home and antics resulting from lobsters breaking out of the paper bag and crawling around the kitchen. I burst out laughing. At the same time I wondered how many “Jump Street” fans got the “Annie Hall” reference? Is there crossover between these two movie audiences? What’s the Venn diagram on that?
Anyway, I laughed, and held out hope. Which didn’t last long. Hill and Tatum have good chemistry but most of the movie’s 112-minute runtime is spent on variations of two jokes:
- Schmidt and Jenko’s bromance going through the rituals of a heterosexual and/or homosexual relationship, replete with jealousy, breakup, etc.
- A meta joke poking fun at the movie itself: the sequel that rehashes the plot of the first film, but with a bigger budget.
In this one, as Capt. Dickson (Ice Cube) said at the end of the last one, “You two sons of bitches are going to college!” It’s called MC State (I like that), and there’s another designer drug that’s causing kids to get high and die. It’s called Why-Fhy, or Wi-Fi, and one student has already jumped out a window. She was young, talented and black, which leads Schmidt to awkwardly tell the Captain how much they care. He’s riffing off of MWWS, and it’s not a bad bit: the idiotic, PC intentions of Schmidt meeting the cold scowl of Ice Cube.
In the last movie, Schmidt, the schlubby nerd, became popular, while Jenko, the handsome jock, didn’t, but they abandon that conceit here. Instead, like goes with like. Schmidt impresses at a poetry slam (a good bit), while Jenko tries out for the football team and meets his brother from another mother, Zook (Wyatt Russell, the son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn), who is also, of course, a suspect. He quickly becomes a source of tension between the two protagonists: Schmidt is jealous, Jenko is upset with Schmidt’s clinginess and talks of a more “open” investigation, where they might investigate other people. Again, it’s not a bad bit—I laughed at Jonah Hill’s sad, wincing, lonely walk across campus—but it’s done to death. It’s good for a few minutes but half the movie is this joke.
Then we get the meta stuff—the overall stupidity of the movie we’ve paid to see—then a false resolution, then the real one amid a shoot-out during Spring Break in Mexico. Throughout, Schmidt has held Jenko back, so here he has to make the leap, literally, to save the day. Once again, Hollywood winks at us about the idiocy of movies but still gives us the idiotic wish-fulfillment fantasy we bottomlessly crave.
By this point I was bored, horribly bored, but then we got the credit sequence in which a dozen or more potential sequels are imagined—including one (“28 Jump Street”?) in which Jonah Hill’s Schmidt, in the midst of a contract dispute, is replaced by Seth Rogen’s Schmidt as if they were the same person. The sequence reminded me of all of those awful, imagined Adam Sandler movies from “Funny People”: “Merman,” “My Best Friend is a Robot,” “Re-Do,” etc. Again, it’s a joke about how stupid the movies are, but at least it’s a smart joke. I also hope it means there won’t be a “23 Jump Street”; but since this one is making beaucoup bucks, I assume there will be—with Seth Rogen, if necessary.