’22 Jump Street,’ more of the same

“22 Jump Street” isn’t a very good movie. But it doesn’t promise to be anything other than exactly its predecessor: the 2012 buddy-cop comedy hit, “21 Jump Street.”

Screenplay writers Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel and Rodney Rothman (along with story creators Bacall and Jonah Hill and directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller) know that sequels and remakes aren’t as good as the original. And “21 Jump Street” — which starred Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as young undercover cops infiltrating a high school drug bust — is a reboot of Stephen J. Cannell and Patrick Hasburgh’s 1987 to 1991 television series starring Johnny Depp as undercover Officer Tom Hanson.

That self awareness, though, makes the movie. “22 Jump Street” is at it’s best when pokes fun at itself.

“No one gave a shit about the ‘Jump Street’ reboot, but you got lucky,” said Deputy Chief Hardy (played by “Parks and Recreation’s” Nick Offerman). “Do the same thing as last time and everyone’s happy.”

That’s why, Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) are back in the same worn-out roles, using the same undercover identities: brothers Dennis and Brad McQuaid. This time, they’re also college roomies at MC State, searching for the source of WHY-PHY (“Work Hard, Yes; Party Hard, Yes”), the drug that killed a college student.

Hill and Tatum resume their awkward bromance, but college tests their high school fling. Jenko begins an easy friendship with star quarterback Zook (Wyatt Hawn Russell). Schmidt bonds with art student Maya (Amber Stevens), Captain Dickson’s (Ice Cube) daughter.

The two break it off and get back together, even seeing a psychiatrist (Marc Evan Jackson) to discuss their relationship. Jenko claims Schmidt’s too clingy and weighing him down. Schmidt’s afraid of being alone. Bacall, Uziel and Rothman skillfully incorporate double entendres into this farce, capitalizing on Hill and Tatum’s chemistry and physical appearances. Hill’s the short, jealous, submissive partner while Tatum’s the gentleman — even offering to pay for Schmidt’s cab as he leaves a party early.

Directed by Lord and Miller (the duo who also brought you “The Lego Movie” and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”), “22 Jump Street” is the product of a successful formulaic franchise (The first film made $35 million dollars during its opening weekend. The sequel made more than $60 million.). But even as you pay for their sequel, you don’t feel ripped off for seeing the same exact movie — not when you’re in on the joke.

“22 Jump Street” is directed by Christopher Miller and Phil Lord and written by Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel and Rodney Rothman.


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