After making their way through high school (twice), big changes are in store for officers Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) when they go deep undercover at a local college. But when Jenko meets a kindred spirit on the football team, and Schmidt infiltrates the bohemian art major scene, they begin to question their partnership. Now they don’t have to just crack the case – they have to figure out if they can have a mature relationship. If these two overgrown adolescents can grow from freshmen into real men, college might be the best thing that ever happened to them.
Review 22 Jump Street
Review 22 Jump Street
The entire movie embraces the idea of the “been there, done that, do it again” Hollywood mentality by going there and doing that, again, but with so much charm and irreverence in equal proportions that even the most hard-to-please filmgoer will probably walk away with a smile. It’s a proverbial love letter to modern moviegoers who will appreciate every little jab at itself and the larger system while still maintaining high energy, plenty of wit, and no shortage of crude humor that’s as tasteful as it can be. It’s a film that gets everything right by doing so much wrong, a true accomplishment that deserves more acclaim than it will ever receive.
Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum), fresh off their high school assignment, are given a new task: go to college. They’ve been assigned as roommates at MC State where a new drug dubbed “WHYPHY” has been spreading across campus. It allows users to study hard for several hours before pushing them to let loose and party harder afterwards. Their goal: track down the dealer and cut off the supply. Their initial foray into higher learning proves mostly successful, but as college tends to do to best friends, they’re slowly drawn apart and towards other people. While Jenko develops a bond with a football player named Zook (Wyatt Russell), Schmidt finds himself attracted to a beautiful young art major named Maya (Amber Stevens). Can they hold off the new temptations and stay on task, or will the allure of college life and the strain on their relationship keep them from completing their assignment?
22 Jump Street works so well because it’s so brazenly open about what it is. The complete lack of seriousness is its best asset and it remains fresh by topping itself time and time again, going further and further but never so far as to feel forced or repetitive, either of which would alienate the audience and destroy everything the movie works so hard to build. Instead, the viewer is kept enthralled, wondering what whacky, rhythmic stunt, revelation, or deliciously corny event will happen next. Even the most extreme bits of randomness work.
It’s all perfectly timed and so well conceived that it doesn’t feel at all planned but effortlessly natural, a pure, unadulterated result of how these characters work together and, sometimes, alone. The movie, then, feels completely comfortable with itself, with everything it does, everywhere it goes, whether in its endlessly absurd humor, poking fun at its own style and genre, or mimicking the off-the-wall, transparent 80s Action movie style it so lovingly embraces where laughs, character camaraderie, and well-developed action prove far more important than detailed plot lines. The movie is at its best when under the microscope of self-deprecation but it works very well with every last little wink and nod that sees it through and molds it into one of the finest Comedies since, well, 21 Jump Street (and stay tuned for the credits which offer perhaps the best post-film shenanigans ever, right up front).
All of these well-conceived shenanigans work as well as they do not only because of the clever writing and superb direction from both Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, but also because of the cast’s complete commitment and total understanding of what the movie is and what it wants to accomplish. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are terrific in the leads, both of whom play things somewhat understated but aggressively so, milking each ridiculous deadpan moment and over-the-top zany scene with an uncanny expertise. Tatum uses his stiffness to his advantage in the more low-key comedy scenes but also excels when he’s allowed to run wild and lose all control, a perfect example being an explosion of laughter in Captain Dickson’s office that in any other movie would go on for far too long but that here never grows tiresome thanks to the raw enthusiasm Tatum expresses the whole way through.
Hill likewise shows a wide range of emotive skill and works them to his advantage across the entire broad spectrum of humor in the film, and his camaraderie with Tatum is second-to-none, great when they are together and even more palpably intense when they are apart. Ice Cube, however, absolutely steals the show, particularly when he and the audience alike are presented with a sudden comedic twist that beautifully redefines the film’s first half and nicely sets up some quality humor dynamics for the second.