22 Jump Street is a sequel that so prides itself on being exactly like the original that it constantly self- references it. The meta is funny for the first four iterations, which is better than most movies do, until it spins off into buddy flick homophobia jokes, the requisite party and frat pranks, and the ultimate acknowledgement that this is a college comedy cloaked in a cop film, the spring break bash in Mexico.
The modular jokes in 22JS, get built up to the fourth variation or more where they are dropped for another construction that is built up to their perfect iteration. The genius of directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller is that they know precisely how many reiterations a good joke and visual gag can take. Everything is a mandala that merges to its perfect center. This time Chaning Tatum and Jonah Hill go to college, exist through the same plot and jokes, only made wittier and sicker as they need to be. Stick around for the screamingly hilarious post-credit sequences to see exactly how many iterations of Jump Street Lord-Miller think we can take.
Chaning Tatum seems to be enjoying the redo. Jonah Hill who has had some exposure to serious acting in The Wolf of Wall Street and Money Ball with Oscar nominations in both to his credit has a more difficult time getting back into the groove. His seriousness on occasion deprives his character of the antic obsession and over self awareness needed to make him truly funny. By himself, Jump Street doesn’t jump. With support either from Tatum or the deadpan delightful Jillian Bell, Hill is in the groove.
22 Jump Street by striving to under achieve, it achieves quite a lot. It is funny enough to forgive the bits that do not work, because the next good one will roll by soon. I might stick around for versions 23-44.