What exactly is meta? Meta is self-referencing art. An actor who looks into a camera lens, take this famous and extreme example from Spaceballs:
My first drive-in experience was to see the delightfully hilarious 22 Jump Street. I was so enamored with the idea of being at the drive-in and was immediately sucked into the movie. It wasn't until my second viewing of the film, a home viewing, where I realized something...22 Jump Street is one of the most meta films of this decade (so far). If you have not seen 22 Jump Street here is the trailer, so you can familiarize yourself with the highly cerebral plot *insert sarcastic tone* which is completely different than the plot of 21 Jump Street. Quick side note, let's not forget the meme which spawned from this movie. Let's now go through all of the meta-ness 22 Jump Street has to offer.
Let's start with the biggest self-referential joke and that is the fact that the movie title changes with building changes. 21 Jump Street was named after the building they occupy on 21 Jump Street. So what would be a good title for the second one? You could go by way of the Sharknado and name the second film 21 Jump Street: the second one, or you could just change one major thing in the sequel: the location. They move locations so they can change the title of the film. Schmidt even jokes how convenient it is that there is a second abandoned church right across the street from 21 Jump Street. Pretty funny, I think.
Next is the monologue offered up by Offerman. He states how "nobody gave a sh*t about the Jump Street reboot," which is the sentiment a lot of people currently share about reboots/remakes today, and not just about the Jump Street franchise, but reboots/remakes as a whole.
"So now this department has invested A LOT of money it to make sure Jump Street keeps going."
Offerman is blatantly stating what production companies do with remakes. A company will make a slightly successful remake of a film, and then turn around and shovel loads of money into Remake: Part Two, which is generally where the companies fail.
"As if spending twice the money guarantees twice the profit,"
Offerman adds. When talking about the future careers of Schmidt and Jenko, Offerman states they are not succeeding because they must do what they did in the first film; then he goes on to tell them they'll fall into old habits, and pretty much the same thing will happen now just like it did in 21 Jump Street. And yeah, the same thing happens. Whereas people criticized this movie for being too similar to the first one, I look at them and say, "isn't THAT the joke?"
When Jenko's character is talking about his future policing careers he says, "what if we actually went into the secret service and protect the White House?" Where Schmidt replies, "that won't work." This is an obvious reference to Channing Tatum's film role in White House Down.
As they enter 22 Jump Street Jenko and Schmidt refer to Dixon's (Ice Cube) office as looking like, "a cube of ice." Dixon starts talking about getting a raise for the job he had Jenko and Schmidt do in the first one. The meta joke here is generally actors who appeared in part one of a movie will get paid more in part two.
This scene says more than any words I could write about meta-ness:
Dixon makes a joke halfway through about how there is no more money in the budget. He talks about, "the expensive chase in the beginning," here Dixon is telling us movies spend exorbitant amounts of money on chase scenes.
This is followed up by his quip about clothing prices, ""I got on $800 shoes, and you can't even see the motherf*ckers." Hollywood costumes are not cheap. They are ridiculously expensive, just watch the behind the scenes documentary for The Devil's Rejects, where Rob Zombie goes on for five whole minutes about ow ridiculous the prices of costumes are for movies. Dixon is merely the voice of reason here, stating "I am wearing $800 shoes, but you can't even see them. "
Jenko and Schmidt are told to find the suppliers, but not cost the department any more money. This results in a hilarious car chase, that starts out front of a building named after Benny Hill, where a melodically differed Yakety Sax plays as they zip around. They take the car chase through the sculpture garden, where they actively try to avoid all statues, as to not cost the department any more money. The cherry on top of the meta whip creamed topped apple pie is how the end of the car chase scene is an overhead CGI shot (making the joke that the filmmakers of this ran out of money in the car chase department), and it is poorly done, adding to the joke, while the characters describe the EXPENSIVE things they are running into.
This film is riddled with jokes you won't pick up on in your first viewing. It's surprisingly witty compared to the first one. Now it isn't the funniest meta film out there, that trophy goes to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back for the scene at Miramax. But this film should tickle the meta bone of die hard meta fans.