Self-reference passes all the way into self-discussion in 22 Jump Street, a film that seems to carry a singular raison d'être: to comment on just how absurd it is that 22 Jump Street exists.
The 400-Word Review: 22 Jump Street
By Sean Collier
June 16, 2014
Characters comment plainly on the ridiculousness of this two-and-done franchise, as when Nick Offerman’s Deputy Chief Hardy deadpans, “Nobody cared about the Jump Street reboot.” Later, Ice Cube’s Captain Dickson runs down a list of the budget-heavy set pieces we’ve seen so far, demanding that Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill — or is it Jenko and Schmidt? — avoid knocking down anything expensive for the rest of the film (the case), as the budget is running out.
Such metatextual riffings provide the most successful gags in 22 Jump Street, but the film isn’t without its charms otherwise. Tatum and Hill — who are once again tasked with finding the mysterious source of a new recreational drug, this time at a college rather than a high school — are the lifeblood of these pictures, with an unexpectedly electric on-screen relationship. I’m not sure I want more Jump Street movies, but I definitely want to see these two on another project.
The rest of the cast has been downgraded, as Amber Stevens and Jillian Bell — neither awful, but neither impressive — fill holes left by the vastly more engaging Dave Franco and Brie Larson. Cube is given more to do; while his range is limited, he’s used to fine effect.
Unlike the first Jump Street, though, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s sequel has stretches where the action grows bland and the jokes miss. Perhaps it’s partially due to the pleasant-surprise factor in the first one; 21 easily eclipsed the modest expectations due to a 20-years-late adaptation. It could also be due to the fact that 22 Jump Street comes only two years after 21, and Lord and Miller were busy with The Lego Movie for much of that period.
Deputy Chief Hardy also gives a speech about how doing the same thing again is never as good as it was the first time, which is a remarkably savvy move. After all, since 22 Jump Street is telling you that it won’t be as good as its predecessor, can you get angry when it’s not? Some might call that a cop-out. Judging from the tone of 22 Jump Street, though, the filmmakers would probably be first in line.
My Rating: 7/10
Average Rating on CriticsChoice.com: 78/100
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark