’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.” 

‘This is the End’: saving the world with laughter

The Puritans believed theatre was evil — idle tools of the devil at play. And acting? That was like gambling or stealing for a living — dishonest and definitely immoral. That’s why Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogan’s latest collaboration, “This is the End,” isn’t so far fetched. Hollywood is the pit of Hell? Well, that makes sense considering our Puritan roots.

So if, let’s say, Judgment Day comes tomorrow, the Puritans would be A-OK with celebrity A-listers burning away, right?

Maybe so, but their fans wouldn’t approve. We’re fascinated by our sinner culture, our false idols, our celebrities. And we love reality TV — which is why “This is the End” is intriguing at first.

For the first time, we can browse through James Franco’s basement (where he keeps the props for all his movies) and hear Seth Rogan’s laugh (and see if it’s real). We can see our celebrities in their natural habitats: you know, with Michael Cera as a foul-mouthed womanizer and Emma Watson as an ax-wielding badass.

“This is the End,” an extended version of Goldberg and Rogan’s 2007 short, “Jay and Seth vs. the Apocalypse,” is an end-of-the-world comedy where celebrities play caricatures of themselves.

Scripted and directed by Goldberg and Rogan, the writers of “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express,” “This is the End” follows Jay Baruchel’s arrival to LAX. Baruchel was looking forward to playing video games, smoking weed and bonding with his Canadian pal, Seth Rogan — not going to some elitist celebrity party at James Franco’s mansion.

But lo and behold, he did go and the world ended. Quite literally. Alien abductions, fiery sinkholes, zombies and cannibals, the whole shebang.

And while all the good people got beamed up into heaven, Baruchel, Rogan, Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride were stuck on Hell on Earth — where their survival depended on each other.

This proves difficult for the six self-centered celebs, who fight over every Milky Way and water jug. Franco is a pretentious art snob, Hill is two-faced, McBride is a schmuck. And while they may act (mostly) pleasant around each other, well, we know they’re accomplished comedic actors — who’ve won Golden Globes and People’s Choice Awards and have been nominated for Oscars and Emmys.

While “This is the End” attempts at emotional sincerity (Baruchel’s grand epiphany is that he feels that he lost his pal Rogan to Franco’s celebrity in-crowd), that earnestness is lost when faced with the on-screen personas of self-entitled celebs. Rogan and Baruchel’s bromance doesn’t seem as sincere as the acting of Jonah Hill and Michael Cera in “Superbad,” Rogan and Goldberg’s loosely-autobiographical comedy about two hormonal high school BFFs. It feels cheap, engineered and well, Hollywood — complete with a feel-good deus ex machina ending.

While “This is the End” is an interesting experiment (the actors playing themselves part, not the end-of-the-world part), you can’t help but feel ripped off. Deep down, you know the actors are acting (even if they’re playing themselves). This is why they were  perceived as dishonest and immoral by Puritan standards. But by poking fun at themselves, you also know that they have given you one of life’s greatest gifts — the ability to laugh. And if this is the end, that might keep the darkness at bay just a little longer.

 “This is the End” was written and directed by Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg. 

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.