By Joe Strange
21 Jump Street took me by complete surprise. Having never seen the original television show I had no idea what to expect, but I tell you what I didn’t expect, a smart, laugh a minute buddy comedy where I actually started to like Channing Tatum.
So when 22 Jump Street (one of the easiest to name sequels since 2 Fast 2 Furious) was announced my immediate reaction was joy, followed swiftly by trepidation. Comedy films are hard, and sequels to successful comedies even harder. People think they want to be reminded of old jokes, but they get stale quickly, and character development and plot are often forgotten in an attempt to keep up with the original.
The plot of 22 Jump Street focuses a lot on ‘doing exactly the same thing’. There’s a new drug craze in colleges and, because it worked so well last time, Schmidt and Jenko (Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum) are tasked to ‘Infiltrate the dealers, find the supplier’ all over again.
But college is a whole different ballgame, instead of Schmidt excelling, this time it’s Jenko who makes the friends, this time in his natural habitat of college football and frat houses. The plot is carried by their investigation and humour of the bromance, including the subsequent comedy drama of the two main characters’ relationship, which obviously opens up its own can of jokes, both smart and dumb.
I’m not saying 22 Jump Street excels in plot and character growth, but what it lacks in the former it makes up in laughs. The majority of the remaining humour comes from the fact that no one really expected 21 Jump Street to do quite as well as it did, something that is spelled out to us by Nick Offerman’s Deputy Hardy, who people will remember as the fantastic meta cop from the first film. Returning as the pair’s captain Dickson is Ice Cube, who is an absolute scene stealer this time round, and I’m really glad they gave him more scenes to dominate in.
The film beats you around the head with the fact it’s a sequel, but not in a bad way, it’s done well, and it’s never the same joke repeated (the worst crime for a comedy to commit). Jump Street is also rich in pop culture references, a lot of which tie in with the above comedy thread, as well as some excellent slapstick and bawdy humour. It’s both smart and dumb, and the chemistry and buffoonery between the two leads makes it endearing, which distracts you from the fact that it’s SO. DAMN. META.
At just under two hours it can feel a little long, but there is very rarely a low point for laughs, especially if you’re liberal with what tickles your funny bone, and the jokes are varied enough that there should really be something in there for every sense of humour. In all, 22 Jump Street is one of the best, funniest, comedy sequels in recent history, definitely the best of the year. It does everything a sequel should do, but bigger, better, and while spending more money. And the credits? Well they’re worth waiting the whole film for.