Schmidt and Jenko are back and this time they are going to college!
Channing Tatum - Jenko
Jonah Hill - Schmidt
Ice Cube - Captain Dickson
Peter Stormare - The Ghost
Back in 2012 the biggest surprise of the year was hit comedy 21 Jump Street, an adaptation of a 1980s television series that starred a young Johnny Depp before he became Jack Sparrow. The film replaced Depp with the unlikely team of Jonah Hill (Superbad) and Channing Tatum (Magic Mike, Step Up), but they quickly developed a lovable bromance, off screen and on, resulting in a hilarious film that centred on their characters relationship. Of course comedies have always had trouble in the sequel department (see The Hangover: Part II and Grown Ups 2), but 22 Jump Street's capacity to laugh and poke fun at itself, as well as comedy sequels in general, allows it to be just as entertaining as the first. By focusing more on the bromance between the two leads and playing it up to extremes, 22 Jump Street plays to its strengths and shows that they have learnt from the mistakes of other comedy series'.
With comedy it is hard to be original, something that the first film achieved quite well, but with sequels it is even more difficult, especially with the high expectations and anticipation. Look at The Hangover: Part II for instance. The only thing that changed was the location, moving the Wolfpack from Las Vegas to Bangkok. The jokes, story and everything else was repeated from the first film and so the audiences got bored. With 22 Jump Street however the case is a bit different. Sure it does the same thing as The Hangover moving the location, high school to college, but keeping the storyline the same, Jenko and Schmidt go undercover to expose a drug ring whilst they battle in their friendship. However, directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who most recently mastered animation with the creative and wonderful [The LEGO Movie](movie:376368), put a neat twist on their sequel that is original, imaginative and funny.
Of course 22 Jump Street has the usual mix of comedy from crude humour to witty remarks that ensures you will be laughing throughout. But its unique self-conscious capacity to poke fun at itself and mock comedy sequels in general makes it a bit more special. In an early scene Ice Cube's Captain Dickinson explains to Jenko and Schmidt why their operation, which we briefly see in an early scene, went wrong. He explains that it is because they were trying to do something new, and so if they do the same, but with a bigger budget, of course it will lead to great results. Cue hilarious jokes about studios, the film industry and comedies culminating in a credits that mocks ongoing ridiculous series' like Police Academy (seven films guys, SEVEN!). Even Ice Cube joins in the fun describing his office as 'it's like a cube, made of ice'. The fact that everyone involved has the sense of humour that allows them to take the mick out of themselves ensures that this comedy streak of genius does not head in the wrong direction.
Without this aspect though the storyline wouldn't have been strong enough to hold up the film. They can mock it all they want but they cannot escape from the fact that, like with all comedy sequels the storyline is the same as the first, with a few things reversed. It still relies on the same old story of Jenko and Schmidt constantly falling in and out of friendship and the joke that they talk about their friendship as a literal relationship. However, they really play it up to the extremes making the sequel even more ridiculous and even more funny. This is all thanks to the wonderful writers and Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill who lovingly bring their characters to life. They outshine the supporting cast, most of whom are completely forgettable, with their willingness to do and say absolutely anything no matter how ridiculous they look. They work well on screen and are clearly great friends off screen, which makes their on screen friendship more realistic. Ice Cube also gets more screentime, culminating in a stomach hurting scene where he finds out Schmidt slept with someone close to his heart.
Like with all comedy sequels [22 Jump Street](movie:434853) falls into the trap of repeating the same storyline and jokes, however its capacity to mock itself saves the day as it laughs at comedies and the film industry. Tatum and Hill are as brilliant as ever and work well on screen, but the supporting cast and their characters are unfortunately completely forgettable. Still, it plays to its strengths and its focus on the the central bromance is the right move.