’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.


Bullock and McCarthy bring ‘The Heat’

A year after Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) emerged as the undercover cop duo in Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s film “21 Jump Street,” they have two female counterparts: Special Agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) and Boston Deputy Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy).

And they know it too. “Are you a narc?” one of Mullins’ meathead brothers asks SA Ashburn.

“What?” she answers.

“A narc,” he replies. “You know, like fucking Johnny Depp in ’21 fucking Jump Street.'”

Directed by Paul Feig, known for “Bridesmaids,” “The Heat” pairs know-it-all FBI Agent Sarah Ashburn with potty-mouthed undercover Boston cop Shannon Mullins (her undercover uniform consists of a T-shirt, vest and sweatpants, making her look like more of a bum). The problem is… they’re both territorial alpha females.

“Wow, lady, you’re on a real fucking roll,” Mullins says after she finds out that Ashburn has not only taken her parking spot, but also her interrogation. “Get it up, and get it the fuck out of here, cause this is my room.”

But SA Ashburn isn’t intimiated by the cussing or the attitude. Her insults come off nonchalantly — as if she doesn’t realize she’s being insulting, which in turn, makes it all the more insulting.

“Were you about to be, uh, questioned by a detective?” Ashburn asks.

“I am a detective and this is my perp!”

Get ready to watch 117 minutes of this: swearing, bitch slapping and insults. Yes, it’s longer than a “Maury” episode, and the words aren’t bleeped out ‘cuz it’s not on television, but there’s physical humor too!

McCarthy and Bullock get progressively drunk at a dive bar, downing shots with snout-like noses, dancing with old grandpas and spending the morning. No donuts or coffee for these gals!

What else? In once scene, McCarthy pretends to shoot out some guys privates; in another scene, Bullock actually does it!

And who could forget McCarthy’s smouldering smooch with her real-life hubby, Ben Falcone?

Remember him? He was the air marshall she made out with in “Bridesmaids.” This time around, he’s Melissa’s lovesick stalker who can’t take a hint (Who would? McCarthy’s hot and cold — one minute she’s having a one night stand with him, and the next, she’s pretending he doesn’t exist. Not to mention, they’re married in real life!).

And Officer Mullins can be a vicious maneater too.

“Hey, if anyone’s seen the captain’s balls, let me know,” she says about her boss, shouting these words to the entire office. “They’re about this big… But a lot tinier. They’re like a pea, or like a…like a ball bearing, or like, if you’ve ever seen a mouse ball, about half that size. Incredibly tiny, they’re like really, really tiny little girl balls, if little girls had balls.”

Over the top, much? Maybe.

There’s a saying that if a stand-up comedian has to rely on swear words for laughs, he or she must not be that funny.

Funny-girl McCarthy swears every other sentence, using it like a crutch.

But like “Bridesmaids,” there are some serious laugh-out-loud moments,  or at least chuckles — not as many of those deep, belly laughs of “Bridemaids” that left you winded, crying and gasping for breath though.

Feig has a knack for showing people at their most pathetic. After all, who could forget a scene that featured pooping in your wedding dress? Or in this case, slitting a dude’s throat while giving the Heimlich. Not the same? Didn’t think so…

But while “The Heat” doesn’t have as many memorable personalities as “Bridesmaids,” McCarthy and Bullock carry the buddy-buddy cop flick.

They’re Cagney & Lacey, Thema and Louise, Lorelai and Sookie — and “where you lead, I will follow, anywhere that you tell me to…”

A classic friendship that begins with name calling and ends with: “Nerd, you have a sister!”

Don’t worry: they’re not going anyway. “The Heat 2” is in the works (unlike “Gilmore Girls”). Let’s hope their next stand-up routine has a little less swearing, a little more substance and a lot more belly laughs written in.

“The Heat” was directed by Paul Feig and written by Kate Dippold, whose writing credits include “Parks and Recreation” and “MADtv.” 

‘Magic Mike’: the modern ‘Rocky Horror Picture’

“You don’t need to talk,” psychologist Joanna (Olivia Munn) says to Channing Tatum’s character, Mike. “Just look pretty.”

Right, “look pretty”: the premise of Steven Soderbergh’s 110-minute film, “Magic Mike” — a film whose main attraction includes objectifying athletic, naked, flexible and muscular men with tantalizing butts and abs, grinding under the dirty limelight of dollar bills.

There’s a loose plot to this strip show — one which involves Mike, a six-year veteran stripper for Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), Xquisite strip club’s M.C. and owner. As Mike bypasses the bouncers of the Tampa nightclubs on one of his nightly gigs, he brings Adam (Alex Pettyfer) — a 19-year-old Ashton Kutcher look-alike begging to join the ranks of the 21-and-plus partying crowd. Adam trades his body for admission, finding his strip tease the last act of an all-male strip show. By the end of the night, Adam inherits a new nickname (“The Kid”) and a permanent place on Dallas’ roster.

Tatum exudes confidence as the film’s titular character, but perhaps that’s to be expected. This isn’t the first time Tatum’s a stripper. Before he made it big as a dancer/actor on Anne Fletcher’s “Step Up,” Tatum was an 18-year-0ld stripper in Tampa. “It was the atmosphere and energy of it I wanted to capture,” Tatum said, “and that feeling of being at a time in your life when you’re trying things out, and up for anything.”

Soderbergh creates that atmosphere with coma-inducing images of seductive naked men. As you watch with half-lidded eyes, you realize that these men are up for anything — from shaving their legs, sporting red-white-and-blue thongs and cross-dressing (in one scene, Tatum prances around in a white Marilyn Monroe dress and a blond wig) to sleazing themselves for money (a frisky female extra reportedly ripped off McConaughey’s G-string during the shoot).

But the gaudiness mask an act: “I’m not what I do,” Magic Mike, who describes himself as an entrepreneur, tries to explain. Mike’s an honest man pursuing the American dream: he wants to open his own custom-design furniture business — but the capitalism gods won’t allow someone with his laughable credit score to take out a business loan. And as Adam succumbs to the girls/drugs/sex lifestyle of the stripper underworld, Mike finds himself as Richard O’Brien’s Dr. Frank N. Furter — the creator of Rocky, a sculpted hedonistic adonis clad in only a pair of snug gold briefs.

“Magic Mike” is what you paid for: pelvic thrusts from scantly-clad eye candy, dancing in an array of uniforms (including police officers, sailors and soldiers) and personas (ranging from Uncle Sam, G.I. Joe to Tarzan and a real-life Ken doll). “You’re not just stripping. You are fulfilling every woman’s wildest fantasies,” Dallas explains. “You are the husband that they never had. You are that dreamboat guy that never came along. You are the one-night stand: that free fling of a fuck that they get to have tonight, with you on stage, and still go home to their hubby and not get in trouble because you, baby, you made it legal.”

To paraphrase: you’re “Rocky Horror Picture Show’s” Janet, singing “touch-a, touch-a, touch-a, touch me/ I want to be dirty…” But your silhouette doesn’t get to make love to Rocky’s behind a thinly veiled screen. Even being a “Magic Mike virgin” won’t promise you lap dances with either Tatum, Pettyfer or McConaughey on your lap. As Dallas says, “The law says you cannot touch.” And so far, reaching through the silver screen is only science fiction. 

“Magic Mike’s” visually enjoyable and it doesn’t take a psychoanalyst to understand why. With men holding umbrellas and sparklers in rather suggestive places, it’s the Freudian promise of sex that keeps you watching and returning through the time warp — long after midnight.

“Magic Mike” was directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Reid Carolyn. 

Jumping to the 21st Century: ’21 Jump Street’ is Comedic Genius

Two cops who pedal bicycles after a tough-looking biker gang of 1 percenters in the city park. Cops who don’t know how to recite the Miranda Rights word-for-word upon making their first arrest. Their only redeeming quality is that they look young, like they just got out of school (or in Channing Tatum’s character’s case, he looks like he might have flunked out a few years).

“21 Jump Street” is ridiculous, but that is part of the appeal. When reviving a classic late ’80s, early ’90s television series like “21 Jump Street” and adapting it to the silver screen in the twenty-first century, you have to update with the times. Sure, kids are still getting into booze, drugs, gangs and other shady business. But kids are also texting, YouTubing, Facebooking and plugging into the Twitterverse.

Michael Bacall’s screenplay adaption of Patrick Hasburg and Stephen J. Cannell’s television series canon features a new duo of awkward, bumbling cops going undercover in high schools: Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Tatum). Their challenges include blending into the new social hierarchy of modern day high school: one where the popular kids are gay, tolerable, accepting and environmentalists and the nerds are still the ones building rocket ships on the lawn.

Hill and Tatum have great chemistry and bromance together, striking an unlikely friendship. It’s comical watching Tatum cheerlead Hill’s character as he tries to overcome the physical obstacles of the police academy test while Hill tutors Tatum’s character on the written portion of the exam. In another scene the two are seen fingering each other’s mouths, trying to get each other to throw up in a bathroom stall.

Bacall’s script also does much to poke fun at the original TV series. The nondescript rundown chapel on Jump Street that was home base for the undercover program features a rather prominent Korean Jesus. Captain Dickson (Ice Cube), who runs the undercover camp, isn’t subtle about why the crew is there: “You are here because you some Justin Beaver, Miley Cirus lookin’ muthas.”

And the best parts: Undercover Officer Tom Hanson (Johnny Depp) makes a cameo and the promise of a sequel.

“21 Jump Street” was produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. The story was written by Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill.