Monday, June 16, 2014

Movie Review: 22 Jump Street

It's no secret, most movie sequels suck. For every The Empire Strikes Back or Godfather II, there are thousands of uninspired, schlock fest flicks like Son of The Mask, The Hangover Part II & III, or the inevitable Transformers 6: War of the Hybrids. It's like Mel Brooks said in Space Balls, "we'll meet again in Space Balls 2: The Search For More Money." Anyways...with that in mind, it pleases me to announce that 22 Jump Street doesn't suck. In fact, the film is almost as side splittingly  funny as it's predecessor and because this sequel is perhaps, the most meta/self aware film since Wayne's World, it's even more ridiculously entertaining in it's own right.

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are back as the same Police Academy rejects we saw in 21 Jump Street, but this time they get sent to college. That's it. The plot is basically the same as the last film and everyone in the movie knows it [more on the film's hyper self awareness later]. The major difference this time around is the film's larger budget allows the 22 Jump Street cast to go full on 80's action, buddy cop parody, meaning much more chaos, destruction and lulz-y shenanigans.They also take the subtle homoerotic undertones of dude flicks (Predator, Lethal Weapon, etc etc)  to amazing new heights. Like before, Hill and Tatum's bromance is the heart of the film but now it's like a legit same sex civil union and it's hilarious. Jonah Hill may be the certified comic relief but seriously, Channing Tatum steals every scene he's in. He doesn't have as many great "AP chemistry bitch" lines like in the original, but he's still a one man wrecking crew when it comes to lulz and physical comedy. He and Ice Cube deliver the biggest laughs in the film. One scene in particular between the two of them that I dare not spoil, had me and just about everyone else in the theater ROFL. For real.

So back to all the meta/self aware stuff. Yes, perhaps the best part about 22 Jump Street is how often it takes shots at itself. It's a dumb sequel making fun of other dumb sequels. Hill cracks jokes about Tatum's own failed action hero attempt with White House Down, Ice Cube repeatedly alludes to the film's budget, no one in the movie believes Hill and Tatum are college age students and hammers them with old man jokes, and seemingly everyone enjoys pointing out  that this Jump Street's plot is "just like last time." It's all so zany and self aware, they do everything short of breaking the 4th wall onscreen. I half expected Ferris Bueller to pop and start talking to the camera at one point. Sure, the recycled plot and over the top self awareness could be considered a sign of lazy writing, but it's executed oh so well, it's exceptional delivery makes up for it. In fact, keeping tabs on all the film's in-jokes is almost as entertaining as the movie itself. 22 Jump Street is not the most original film in existence [a sequel of a reboot/adaptation] but in a weird way, it is sort of reinventing the wheel.

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