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22 Jump Street - Review

22 Jump Street

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

IF 21 Jump Street mined a lot of its many laughs from openly acknowledging the absurdity of reviving the Johnny Depp career-making TV series from the ’80s, then 22 Jump Street – the hilarious sequel – thrives on its ability to lambast the shortcomings of sequels.

The result is a rare follow-up that manages to better its predecessor (no mean feat in itself) while emerging as one of the finest examples of a sequel in recent memory. It is a laughter riot that’s as knowingly dumb as it is intelligent and inspired.

Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill reprise their roles as undercover detectives Jenko and Schmidt who are asked to uncover another drugs ring (this time at a college as opposed to a high school), prompting another round of clever genre subversion and deconstruction that encompasses everything from Michael Bay-inspired action movies to buddy cop bro-mance and coming-of-age turmoil.

Co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (who also helmed the original) deftly combine all of the elements required from a sequel (bigger action aligned with familiar plot traits and inevitable relationship strains) while still keeping things fresh and/or knowingly self-referential.

Hence, early on the film acknowledges that follow-up films “are always worse the second time” (much like The Muppets did in their recent sequel) before vigorously setting about proving to be one of the exceptions to that ‘rule’.

It’s even self-deprecating enough to drop inspired in-jokes at the expense of its own stars’ past work, such as a brilliant throwaway line in which Tatum suggests going into the Secret Service and infiltrating The White House as a way of freshening up the Jump Street franchise (in a nod to his recent White House Down).

At the same time, the visual references tip their hat to every pumped-up, high-octane action movie cliche you can recall, while putting their own absurdist comedy spin on the ensuing carnage.

It confirms Lord and Miller as the masters of self-referential, genre-subverting filmmaking and continues to enhance their burgeoning reputations as two of the hottest directors working in the mainstream following their similarly memorable films Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballls and The LEGO Movie (not to mention the first Jump Street revival).

For their part, Tatum and Hill continue to provide an irresistible double act whose quick-fire banter is a hoot, yet who also get the chance to perform and develop their characters into broader areas than most sequels allow. Hence, by dissecting the bro-mance underpinning the movie, Tatum’s Jenko gets to question his own future as a detective (as opposed to a college sports star) which inevitably places a strain on his relationship with Schmidt, who subsequently suffers his own crisis of confidence amid hurt feelings. The ensuing emotional fallout requires the actors to act but remains sufficiently funny to have you laughing at all times.

There’s great support, too, from the returning Ice Cube (as their still perpetually angry boss), as well as Amber Stevens (as an arts major who falls for Schmidt) and a series of cameos that heighten the overall enjoyment without sabotaging the film’s momentum.

Indeed, such is the command of the material that Lord and Miller have throughout that the film continues to deliver the thrills into and beyond the end credits, which are guaranteed to leave viewers exiting the cinema in the highest of spirits.

22 Jump Street therefore rates as an unqualified success – a consistently hilarious, endlessly inventive action-comedy that will surely rate as one of the best crowd-pleasers of the year (not to mention a masterclass in the art of delivering a sequel for the ages).

Certificate: 15
Running time: 112mins
UK Release Date: June 6, 2014