22 Jump Street (2014)

22 Jump Street (2014) – Continuing with his meta streak from the first film, virtually all of Nick Offerman’s dialogue (and he isn’t in that much of the movie) is a reference to the film itself. He says that nobody expected the 21 Jump Street program to work. It shouldn’t have worked. Everybody was surprised when it did work. He says that people want to give them a lot more money to do the same thing again to keep everyone happy. Sound familiar? 21 Jump Street was (in this reviewer’s humble opinion) a stupid stupid TV show that should only be remembered, if at all, for launching the career of one of the more interesting actors of his generation. The movie had no real interest in taking this premise seriously and instead gave us an hilarious flick that riffed on high school clichés, cop movie tropes, and just the general Hollywood trend of monetizing nostalgia. I didn’t think it’d be so good. I wasn’t alone. But it was. Now they’ve followed it up. So did lightning strike twice?

Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) make a mess of their attempted capture of dealer Ghost (Peter Stormare), so they soon finding themselves getting that above-referenced speech from Deputy Chief Hardy (Offerman). They’re going to 22 Jump Street where Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) has a fancy new command center and an office that looks like… some sort of cube… of ice. Schmidt and Jenko are sent undercover to Metro City State University to find the supplier of a new drug called WHYPHY. Jenko fits right in with the jocks and frat boys Zook (Wyatt Russell) and Rooster (Jimmy Tatro), who may be the prime suspects. Schmidt, meanwhile, romances a lovely young art student named Maya (Amber Stevens). But romancing Maya has some issues of its own and I am not a big enough asshole to spoil what they are because it is probably the best fucking thing in the movie.

This movie is fucking hilarious. It is also incredibly self-aware. It takes the “more of the same, but bigger” blueprint of sequels and runs with it for a while before turning it on its ass. I don’t mean to sell the movie as some kind of brilliant cinematic deconstruction of modern film-making motifs… but yeah, kind of. It basically just makes fun of everything about modern franchise-building. I, for one, think it was overdue. Plus all the juvenile humor you know and love shows up too. (Hey, Jonah Hill hasn’t TOTALLY let the two Oscar nominations go to his head.) The first film was also the first sign for me that Channing Tatum is a really talented comedic performer and he gets to do even more in this movie. Ice Cube also gets to shine with a lot better material. Not to mention a parade of smaller supporting roles by actors like Jillian Bell (who is one to watch), Patton Oswalt, returning cast members Rob Riggle and Dave Franco, as well as a few surprise cameos. (Though if you remember Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise in the first one, you can probably guess who shows up in this one.) The film has one of the most brilliant end credits sequences I can remember in a recent comedy (the post-credit scene is nothing by comparison). It would seem to preclude the making of a third film, as this movie pretty much mines all the gold left in this premise. However Hollywood loves its sequels. If 23 Jump Street somehow still does happen and all the same people are on board, I’ll check it out. This movie has bought that much good will.

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