Two kind of young-looking cops take on a dangerous undercover assignment at a university.
To say that 2012’s 21 Jump Street was a bit of a surprise is quite the understatement. My expectations for the action comedy couldn’t have been lower – Jonah Hill hardly had leading man status and Channing Tatum was totally unproven in any kind of comic role.
But, against all odds, it was a bit of a riot – sending up the action genre and also bringing us one of the best recent on screen comic pairings. And the sequel might be even better.
It’s been years since I’ve seen a comedy where the jokes rattle off this fast, and more importantly where so many of them hit. Whether its mocking the stereotypes of the genre or the constant ribbing between Hill and Tatum, the vast majority of it is comedy gold.
22 Jump Street gets a lot of its energy from being incredibly self-aware. It starts out by openly referencing the fact that most sequels are vastly inferior and has constant call outs to the activity of movie making- from mentioning the rapidly increasing budget to having Tatum bemoan Hill’s reliance on improv.
Co-director Phil Lord and Chris Miller (who also knocked it out of the park with The Lego Movie this year) manage to keep the tone mostly inside that fourth wall so the film never grinds to a self-reflexive halt. And there’s a great mix of laughs from physical pratfalls to the back and forth between characters.
Tatum and Hill are perfect in these roles. Hill has lost a little of the meandering sense of ab-libbing which makes his best material shine through (possibly because he’s on board as a writer here) but once again the real find is Tatum. The former stripper and model has been really finding his feet as an actor and sells the dumb nature of his character brilliantly, while also keeping up with his co-star’s every quip.
There’s some great support from Nick Offerman and Jillian Bell and an expanded role for Ice Cube who helps to land some of the films funniest scenes.
Story is a necessary casualty of a film like this (if its something you miss) and the action never really equals that of the films its trying to parody. But that hardly matters when the laughs come this thick and fast, supported by more smart ideas than you might imagine like a well played flip on regular hetero romances which might even give you something to think about.
22 Jump Street is easily one of the best comedies of the year and we can’t wait to see more from Hill and Tatum.