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22 Jump Street: The Rise of Vietnamese Jesus

22 Jump Street

Rating:
Star3
Star
Star
Star
Star

Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland

These undercover cops are going to party like it's their job
Image from Columbia Pictures

Markus Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, drug material, teen drinking and some violence

Now playing at Century 20 Oakridge Mall in San Jose, California:

With a premise surrounding the reoccurring, self-aware joke, “do the same thing as last time and people will be happy”, “22 Jump Street” takes the attractive yet dumb cop (Channing Tatum) and comically weird looking but smart cop (Jonah Hill) and moves them from 21 Jump St. across the street to 22 Jump St.; a new building which is acknowledged (in a very tongue-in-cheek manner) as having a much more expensive look for absolutely no reason. This time their assignment takes them undercover, masquerading as college students, in order to discover the distributor of a new synthetic drug. Basically and purposefully the same premise as the last movie (only this time in college). Sounds hilarious, right?

With expectations high, partly because of the creative minds behind it (directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller) partly because of the early critical response (some calling it, “The funniest sequel ever”) and partly because 2012’s “21 Jump Street” was a box-office success, I admittedly went into my screening ready to laugh. And though the chemistry between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum still worked, the satirical nature throughout was still pretty smart and well written (as the film pokes fun at big-budget Hollywood sequels, the college experience and split screens) and Ice Cube is given more to do (which is always good) there are a few glaring problems which caused this comedy to be far more flawed than it should have been:

1. Most of the funny parts are in trailers. Even though this is the fault of the marketing team and not the film itself, nobody enjoys paying exorbitant ticket prices to sit through a movie containing jokes they could see for free on TV.

2. It’s not as funny as “21 Jump Street”. In the case of movies that are either sequels or hold strong resemblances to other (usually more infamous) films, I try my hardest not to let comparisons influence my final rating. It is my intent to review each film on its own individual merits. But here’s the thing: In the case of “22 Jump Street”, the filmmakers have purposefully designed the jokes in such a way as to almost demand that audiences compare this movie to its predecessor as often as possible. It is in this rare case that my rating must reflect as such. Therefore, “22 Jump Street”, while funny at times, wasn’t nearly funny enough to meet (let alone, exceed) expectations set by “21 Jump Street”.

Side Note: And I didn’t even mention the unfortunate Maya Angelou and Tracy Morgan jokes, which instantly silenced a crowd that was intent on laughing over every other punch-line.

Final Thought: Yes, directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie, Cloudy with a Change of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street) deserve the title as two of the hottest comedy directors working, but this is a bit of a misstep in their assent to the top of the genre, simple because it isn’t as funny or clever as what we’ve come to expect from the duo. Luckily, Jonah Hill does save the day more than a few times, as his performance may be the only true standout of this entire film (which is hardly a surprise). He seemed to lead by example, taking firm control of nearly every funny bit with his unique style of physical, self-deprecating and quick witted comedy. Plus, unlike Kevin Hart, Hill can play the same comedic character over and over again and it has yet to become played out or obnoxious. So…there’s that.

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