“There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to create a successful sequel… much more elaborate – more blood, more gore – carnage candy.”
-Randy Weeks (Scream 2)
I remember leaving the theater after watching 21 Jump Street and thinking that it was one of the most subversive films I had ever seen. After leaving 22 Jump Street it felt similar, but not stale. 22 starts out with our protagonists Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) at a good place in life. They are still doing detective work together, and things seem to be going great until we see them in action. This is where the film exceeds most cliched comedies. We quickly learn that things are not what they seem. The team of Schmidt and Jenko are as out of sync as Shaq and Kobe.
The pair are thrust into college and advised by Captain Dickson (Ice Cube). They must solve the mystery of who is distributing the new designer drug. This sounds familiar, right? The same idea as the first film, right? But directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller turn the very idea of a sequel into one big joke. Characters regularly refer to the story as being similar to the last go-round. Some of the biggest laughs come from the more “meta” aspects of the film. Let me also say that Lord and Miller are on a roll. From Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs to Lego Movie and now this franchise, they have set themselves apart.
This film works on many levels. First and foremost, it is extremely funny. Being funny is, obviously, the most important ingredient of a comedy, but it is also well written and thoughtful. Lord and Miller do a majestic job developing characters who we care about and a story that makes sense outside of standard plot lines. The best “gag” happens towards the end of the film and involves Ice Cube and Jonah Hill. It is never tipped off and is delivered with such sincerity that you actually feel for each character respectively.
22 Jump Street is smart, fun, and fresh. It delivers on levels of humor that most films will never even try to achieve. In a summer filled with sequels that just blow things up because they can, 22 Jump Street gives me a small sliver of hope for Hollywood. Lord and Miller are certainly filmmakers that we must all keep our eye on.