Taking a chance on a film that really doesn’t need to be made is one thing, but taking a chance on a film that was a surprise success is another thing entirely. In there lies the beauty of “22 Jump Street,” a film that is so comfortable with how good it is it’s willing to take itself entirely unserious (a word?) during its entire run-time. I usually would save this for the end, but this will possibly be the best comedy of 2014.
“22” once again stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as Detectives Schmidt and Jenko, respectively, as they try to stop a new(er) designer drug called “WHYPHY” being spread across college campuses. Basically, it’s “21 Jump Street” with a different drug….in college….and a bigger budget. The film’s self-awareness and the chemistry between Hill and Tatum are once again the highlights of a film that could have easily been a mockery and easy cash-in, but both Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who were also responsible for stellar “Lego Movie” earlier this year, find just enough originality and heart to make this sequel equal, if not better, than it’s predecessor.
What differentiates “22” from “21”is also the pacing and the use of ancillary characters from the first film. You have some great cameos, and the use of Ice Cube in a larger supporting role yields some of the funniest moments of the film, including a twist you probably don’t see coming. Speaking of Cube, it’s interesting that when he actually gets good material to work with, he’s a real good actor. Yes, I didn’t see “Ride Along” but it’s hard to forgive films like “Are We There Yet?” Sorry Cube, maybe I’m playa’ hating a little bit, but it looks like you’re back on the right track.
While most of the performances are very funny and memorable, not all of the performances are memorable for the right reasons, namely Jillian Bell, who might know from “Workaholics.” Now I’m not saying she isn’t funny, she just happens to be the least funniest part of this film. Her schtick wears thin pretty quick and while she ends being a bigger part of the film come the end, she really wears out her welcome with her brand of comedy. Will Bell doesn’t ring all that well for me, Wyatt Russell, the son of the legend Kurt Russell, and the Lucas Brothers, give some memorable performances and balance out the zaniness of both Hill and Tatum.
With self-aware comedy, Hill and Tatum at the top of their game, and some real great action set pieces, “22” is a winner for all the right reasons. Granted, I will say if you’re a fan of the first film, I’m pretty sure you won’t enjoy the sequel, even though this sequel makes sure that even if your didn’t see the first film it provides you with a handy “previously on” segment to start the film, which I think was a stroke of genius that only a film this comfortable with itself would be able to provide.
Fun Fact: Across the United States there are five 22 Jump Street address; include two Florida.