D: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller. DP: Barry Peterson. W: Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel & Rodney Rotham. Starring: Channing Tatum/Jonah Hill/Ice Cube/Amber Stevens/Wyatt Russell/Jimmy Tatro/Nick Offerman/Jillian Bell.
Every summer the American box office seems heavy with sequels. This summer is no different with 22 Jump Street coming in fast and hard after the success of its original.
This time the unlikely duo of Jonah Hill’s Schmidt and Channing Tatum’s Jenko are being sent to college to find another drug mule. Immediately the film embraces and exploits the notion of sequels. Used as a humor device throughout 22 Jump Street, the joke surely gets old after it’s beaten to a humorless pulp. However, the beginning of the movie is strong with its set up and casual bromace bravado between its leads.
Channing and Hill, who both executive produced this installment, have a clear repertoire. Most of this chemistry comes from their clear physical dissimilarities and different types of masculinity. What is admirable here is that ultimately the pair do not force each other to change or conform. Rather, in this film, their strengths are from their differences, which allows their partnership to work. This is not a new concept in the cop genre, but it is a positive element of 22 Jump Street.
Amidst all the fraternity shenanigans, is a weak storyline with a girl, Amber Stevens, who distracts Hill for a moment. Unlike in 21 Jump Street, this romance sub plot is jumbled together and is such a clear narrative device rather than a character one that it halts the flow of the film. Directing pair, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, make use of lots of split screens and montages which skews the film younger, but also creates a sillier atmosphere than in the original. What is most memorable is Jillian Bell as former roommate of dead girl the duo is investigating. She nearly steals the film with her crazed eyes, she got the best writing from this team.
Ultimately, this sequel lacks the laughs and scale of the original though this one clearly tried much harder. Using New Orleans as its no name city, there are sequences of fun action that have flashes of originality. Somehow the college experience came off as more hackneyed than the high school one, a rare feat for any movie.