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“22 Jump Street” breaks the mold on double trouble

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22 Jump Street


Sequels by and far are worse than the original. This is an unfortunate fact that Hollywood constantly ignores in an attempt to cash in at the box office, a technique that usually works. It is a rare find when a sequel is not only good but actually breaks new ground, a feat that the ever-hilarious “22 Jump Street” does in spades. Led by the always-funny Jonah Hill and the rising star in Channing Tatum, this sequel is a gem in the scary realm of re-dos.
The first of the franchise, “21 Jump Street,” is a perfectly nostalgic mockery of the 1980’s as well as of the entire television-to-film premise. So, how can a sequel, based in college now rather than high school, be anything more than the same? Just as the first mocked making shows into movies 30 years after the show’s relevance has expired, the newest installment beautifully makes fun of how sequels are needlessly bigger, far more expensive, and completely lacking in substance. The fun starts right away with a great chase scene that involves an aggressive octopus. Following is one of the greatest satirical scenes in recent memory when Nick Offerman’s Deputy Chief Hardy has a monologue completely skewering the entire plot to follow, even before the movie gets off its feet.
The film isn’t totally original as the basic premise stays, for the most part, the same. Two clearly older guys go back to school to find the source of a nefarious drug spreading around campus. Still, the hilarity of the film is in the details, the brief moments in which the writers either tweak it from the original or just clearly flip things around in order to poke fun at normal second installments. This time around, Hill’s Schmidt is the nerdy artist and Tatum’s Jenko gets to be popular and have fun. One of the finest moments of dialogue is when Schmidt decides to quit the hazing practices of the fraternity the protagonists rushed “for the investigation” and they go on to have a pseudo- breakup. Jenko wants to have an “open investigation” and maybe they should investigate other people, an obviously not-so-subtle poke at the bizarrely intimate relationship the two have.
Ice Cube is maybe the biggest deviation from the first, actually becoming an active member of the cast rather than the token angry black guy that appears only too briefly in the original. His relationship with the two undercover cops, along with his relationship with his daughter, played by the beautiful Amber Stevens, is great comedy fodder. The completely eccentric Peter Stormare is as weird as ever as The Ghost, the evil drug supplier. Still, the villain to steal the show is “Workaholics’ star Jillian Bell as Mercedes, the drug-toting college student. She and Jonah Hill share the funniest and most awkward fistfight in any recent comedy to date.
Overall though, the film works predominantly because of the great chemistry between its stars. Tatum and Hill are not an obvious choice to frontline a comedy together as one is a buff action star and the other is a comedian with turns in the dramatic, but somehow their friendship off screen pours out onscreen, making this one of the funniest and sweetest comedies of the summer.