22 Jump Street
Creating a sequel to a fantasy like How to Train Your Dragon has to be easier then a comedy. I know that a lot of work already goes into an animated movie, but there is one reason why How to Train Your Dragon has the simpler job then something like 21 Jump Street; the element of surprise. A lot of writers assigned to these movies could spend hours on story and character development, which is fine, but their sequel can only work if they bring in something new and unpredictable. Continuing to stay unpredictable in a comedy is tough.
Take something like Monty Python’s Flying Circus. It’s one of the most famous sketch comedies shows of all time, emphasizing heavily on taking scenarios and taking it into a crazy direction. It threw off people…for a while. The final season proved that even the randomness can become predictable as we now know that going from point A to point B is not going to happen; it’s going to be just as nutty as the early seasons were. Yet while the earlier shows were new, the later seasons resulted in sketches that simply were not as funny as we have picked up on the shows attitude, making it harder to give us something that were not expecting. So let’s see if 22 Jump Street found us something new.
If you saw the first movie, then you know that it ends with our heroes Morton Schmidt (played by Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (played by Channing Tatum) being told their going to college. And…that exactly what they do. Their sent to a college where they go undercover as undergraduates to find a new drug that’s hitting the scene called WHYPHY (pronounced the same as WiFi) that already caused the death of another student.
Just as in the first movie, they assume the same identities and ask other students for clues and possible drug dealer suspects. The switch up here is that Jenko becomes the big man on campus when he makes friends with a frat house jock named Zook (played by Wyatt Russell) that becomes a prime suspect. Schmidt on the other hand makes friendly with an art major, Maya while dealing with having to work on his own. The boys police captain Dickson (played by Ice Cube) occasionally comes in to help and even help fight in the final battle that takes place in Spring Break in Mexico.
As I said, this is basically the same movie all over again, so this must be a really bad film right? Not exactly. The joke of the previous movie was that 21 Jump Street ripped off of 1980’s cop movies, so 22 Jump Street instead makes fun of itself and movie sequels in general. This may be the most self-referential movie comedy, even more so then satires that know their movies. For the most part, they are really funny, though unlike Blazing Saddles and Scary Movie that seem to be in a better mind frame to keep calling out that it’s only a movie, 22 Jump Street is still keen on keeping it in a real world. This causes the meta references to get old really fast and even a touch out of place.
So along the meta material, does the movie have the same wit as the first film? I expected 22 Jump Street to be a lot wilder and a lot funnier. A lot of the wit is still there, but I wasn’t laughing as much. When I was trying to figure out why, I think it maybe that I realized that neither leads have really learned anything from the first movie except to stay friends. How to Train Your Dragon 2 was not afraid to mature their characters and still keep them funny, so I was hoping Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum would have at least matured a little bit.
I’ll give this three and a half football helmets out of five. It delivers what it promises, but like our heroes, I wish it had more ambition to go crazier with it’s scenario. Let’s see them in classes or clubs or something. 22 Jump Street is a passable comedy, but it makes me want to reexamine the first film.