I don’t normally like ‘dumb guy’ comedies, but I have a friend who likes to make me go to them. Sometimes they stink. Sometimes they surprise you. 21 Jump Street was one of the ones that surprised me. It was a remake and it had Jonah Hill, but in places it was smart enough to qualify as a satire. I chose to see the sequel because I was hoping lightning would strike twice.
Two former undercover high schoolers are sent to college to track down the supplier of a new designer drug.
I spent 26 hours teaching five-year-olds how to camp in between seeing this movie and writing this review, so I wish I could say ‘yeah, it’s funny’ and go have the nap I’ve been craving for 25.5 hours. But I have to be more professional than that (because… reasons?) so I’ll tell you that lightning did strike twice: I went into it with doubts and was surprised by how good it was.
The most important question to ask about any comedy is: is it funny? I saw 22 Jump Street at the end of a terrible day. The last thing in the world I felt like doing was laughing. But I did anyway. I laughed because they made fun of sequels the same way they made fun of remakes, because they literally tattooed a red herring on one of the subjects of the investigation, and because they careened through campus in a golf cart shaped like a giant football helmet.
It’s two of my favorite things at once: hilariously large (for a helmet) and absurdly tiny (for a car).
If a movie is funny, the rest almost doesn’t matter (see The Losers). But 22 Jump Street has a pretty good plot, too. Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) are sent to college to “do the same thing as last time” i.e. go undercover as young people to investigate drugs in school.
Except this time we have a bigger budget. Look at all this sh**!
But while the movie is making fun of itself for being the same as last time, it’s also going out of its way to be NOT the same as last time (not exactly the same, anyway). This time it’s Jenko who fits in and Schmidt who’s the loser. Jenko rushes a frat to get close to some football players who might know the dealer and ends up finding a new bestie in Zook (Wyatt Russell).
ZOOT: Let’s lift weights, drink beer, and say bro a lot!
In the last movie Jenko and Schmidt learned to become friends and appreciate the talents that each of them bring to their partnership (Jenko is athletic but dumb and Schmidt is the opposite). In the sequel, Jenko is still dumb and Schmidt is still smart.
Damn. They never told me you had to know how to read to go to college.
But this time Jenko and Schmidt’s partnership is one giant gay joke (which is ironic, considering that Jenko is learning about slurs in his human sexuality class). Schmidt is clingy and upset about being replaced by a handsomer guy who shares more interests with Jenko and Jenko wished Schmidt wouldn’t try to hold him down.
I think we should investigate other people.
Schmidt’s clinginess turns into a kind of charm when he meets Maya (Amber Stevens) at a poetry slam. Maya is a little bland as a character (except for her connection to the rest of the story, which I can’t tell you about). Luckily her roommate Mercedes (Jillian Bell) is almost always there to put Schmidt down relentlessly for being a weird old guy.
Are those crow’s feet? And what kind of geezer just wants to talk all night, anyway?
In fact, so much of the movie revolves around sequel-bashing, old-dude bashing, and the man-love triangle between Schmidt, Jenko, and Zoot, that sometimes they forget they’re supposed to be looking for a drug dealer. Except in the end where they go: oh right! The investigation! Let us infiltrate spring break with guns!
Drop the tequila and put your hands up!
But I didn’t care, because like I said, I laughed a lot, and that’s all I was really looking for from this movie. If you like action, comedy, and self-aware movies play their flaws for laughs, then you’ll like 22 Jump Street. When you go, make sure to stick around for the credit montage of Jump Street sequels (seminary school, flight school, etc.) That’s my favorite part.