Friday, June 13, 2014

22 Jump Street Movie Review

Jonah Hill & Channing Tatum (r) star in 22 Jump Street

Exactly Like Last Time?

Some movies defy logic. Case in point: Sony's 22 Jump Street, a sequel that takes painstaking measures to poke fun at... sequels. 'Do the same thing as last time, and everyone will be happy,' instructs Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman.) Lucky for us, Offerman's instructions are aimed at Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, Hollywood's new it couple. The aforementioned duo reprise their roles as bumbling cops Morton Schmidt & Greg Jenko in one of this year's best comedies... albeit one with its fair share of problems (namely overwriting and predictability.) Is it sophomoric? Definitely. Repetitive? Repeatedly. But does it make you laugh out loud? Over and over again.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: After making their way through high school (twice), big changes are in store for officers Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) when they go deep undercover at a local college. But when Jenko meets a kindred spirit on the football team, and Schmidt infiltrates the bohemian art major scene, they begin to question their partnership. Now they don't have to just crack the case - they have to figure out if they can have a mature relationship. If these two overgrown adolescents can grow from freshmen into real men, college might be the best thing that ever happened to them.

What’s Best: End credits notwithstanding, I don't know how much further Hill & Tatum can milk this cow; but you can't discount the yeoman's job they put forth in 22 Jump Street. They're brilliant together on screen- whether it's physical comedy (scaling heights) or something simple, like reading each other's minds (or not.) I've seen plenty of actors "play dumb," but none as well as these two.

As in 21 Jump Street, keep an eye out for multiple cameos; but this time around, only two co-stars stand out in my opinion. Ice Cube won me over with his look of astonishment during parent's weekend and a series of subsequent text messages to an equally bewildered Schmidt... "What's up Doug?" Not to be outdone, Jillian Bell proves Eastbound & Down was no fluke, popping up when you least expect her. Between her scathing insults towards Doug, or as one-half of the 'most uncomfortable fist fight ever,' Bell steals almost every scene she's in.

What’s Not: It's a running joke throughout the film; but truth be told, Hill, 30 and Tatum, 34 are way too old to be in college. Amber Stevens, 27 too (although she is hot.) Unfortunately for Tatum, he looks really, really tired too: That can't be Magic Mike up there, can it?

The opening sequence falls flat; and on more than one occasion, 22 Jump Street settles for the easy (lazy) joke. More often than not, they fail miserably. Is it too much to ask, to come up with fresh material?

Best Line: I could go with Ice Cube's '22 Jump Street is the lick,' but that's more a catch phrase than a full line. How about this potential "parting of the ways" between Tatum - 'Maybe we should just investigate other people?' and Hill - 'You want an open investigation?' Great play on words.

Overall: It's hard to expect too much from a comedy/bromance based on a cheesy 80's TV drama; but any movie that makes me laugh out loud on numerous occasions is a winner in my book. Can't say I'm proud to double over at vomit gags or a clever reversal on the "AM walk of shame," but if it makes you laugh, why not? Ditto for lines like Tatum's 'I thought we had carte blanche Cate Blanchett with the budget?' 22 Jump Street doesn't worry about shortcuts or hows & whys. All it wants to do is make you laugh. Mission accomplished.