Directed by: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller || Produced by: Neal H. Moritz, Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum
Screenplay by: Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel, Rodney Rotham || Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Peter Stormare, Ice Cube, Amber Stevens, Wyatt Russell, Jillian Bell, Jimmy Tatro
Music by: Mark Mothersbaugh || Cinematography by: Barry Peterson || Edited by: David Rennie || Country: United States || Language: English
Running Time: 112 minutes
While “adult” comedies rarely venture into the expensive hardcore violence of adult action movies, thrillers, or crime dramas, it’s interesting how financially stable Hollywood R-rated comedies are compared to their action counterparts, most of which are watered down to PG-13 levels to achieve maximum audience exposure. 21 Jump Street’s (2012) adult language, lingo, and humor allowed it to explore its satire of high-school teen dramas and, to a lesser extent, its parody of 1980’s buddy-cop flicks. Its sequel more or less does the exact same thing with college satire and sequels, lampooning college cliches like drunken, homoerotic Fratboy lifestyles, weekend hungover “walks of shame,” hipster art parties and slam poetry sessions, and of course sparing no expense to make fun of the fact that this is a sequel and that “everything has to be twice as expensive for no reason.” I mean, have you seen this shit? It looks like Iron Man should be in here or somethin’!
The good news is that most of this stuff works. The vast majority of 22 Jump Street’s (henceforth, 22 JS) satirical ammunition goes off without a hitch, with Channing Tatum asking if he gets to have sex in his Human Sexuality course or just watch other people have sex, and Jonah Hill mocking slam poetry clubs, as well as putting a witty gender role-reversal on Saturday morning walks of shame. Much like last year’s Monsters University (2013) but far more racy, 22 JS mines the infinite source material of college culture to make a party of a movie to which all college students can relate and laugh at themselves.
As for satirizing the trends of sequels, 22 JS also performs well. Hill and Tatum’s seniors, including a better utilized Ice Cube, remind their two leads to do things “exactly like last time,” with a few tweaks here and there, and everyone will be happy. After all, the powers that be put twice as much money into this investigation, so they expect twice the results.
Interestingly enough, the most consistent gag throughout the movie is the obvious homosexual romance (more so than bromance) between Tatum and Hill. The first film developed the two actors’ characters as friends, a stereotypical buddy cop arc. This sequel, however, takes that a dozen steps further and plays the homoerotic joke on their leads, relegating the pair’s heterosexual interests to side-plots or surprise jokes involving Ice Cube’s fatherhood. Not only are the blatantly homosexual vibes of college fraternity livelihoods parodied extensively, but Tatum and Hill’s entire chemistry is built on working together, growing apart, starting an “open investigation” and possibly “investigating other people,” and then eventually rekindling their affection for each other. This film is so gloriously gay it races way past bromance and never looks back, but what makes all this work is how it is done in the name of smart, savvy satire.
The film’s only major weaknesses are its slow start and overly drawn out ending. The prologue that sets up the later collegiate escapades is dull. Similarly, the ending lasts way too long and runs out of good jokes once a fist fight between Jonah Hill and Jillian Bell goes from mildly goofy to downright stupid.
Other than that, 22 JS is a riotous comedic adventure and well made satire. It uses its R-rating to do justice to the behavior of college kids much like the original did with high schoolers. Tatum and Hill may not be terribly commanding on their own, but as a team, they pack more than enough comedic punch.
SUMMARY & RECOMMENDATION: 22 Jump Street’s greatest strength is its self-awareness, its ability to lampoon its premise and even its very status as a sequel, much like the original did with its high-school setting and genre. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum continue to work well with each other. This series may be their best work by far.
— However… the movie starts slow and ends on a “meh” rather than a bang.
? Dude! It’s 2014. You don’t say “faggot” anymore, you say “gay,” or “homosexual,” or if you know them really well you can call them “queer,” and if they have a good sense of humor, but I don’t!