As the follow-up to the funnier and better written “21 Jump Street,” “22 Jump Street” is still fun in large, if not continuous, doses of laughter. Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, with story by Jonah Hill and Michael Bacall and screenplay by Bacall, Oren Uziel and Rodney Rothman, “22 Jump Street” features some hilarious work by Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. The two have amazing chemistry with one another and with the other actors with whom they interact.
“22 Jump Street’s” plot is a fairly simple one. Fresh off their 21 Jump Street success, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are now engaged in non-scholastic, seemingly more challenging work. However, in comical fashion, they quickly blow that job and Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman) reassigns them to the spanking new 22 Jump Street headquarters under the command of their former leader, Captain Dickson (Ice Cube). Their assignment this time is to pose as the unlikeliest set of college-age student siblings at a local college, looking for the suppliers of WHYPHY, the latest college drug of choice.
Schmidt struggles to find his way in college and falls in with an artsy crowd. He hits it off with coed Maya (Amber Stevens), an arts major who comes with the meanest and creepiest of roommates, Mercedes (Jillian Bell). Bell’s and Hill’s chemistry is off the charts and she delivers choice one-liners about how not like a college student Schmidt looks with the sharp skill of a female Don Rickles. Meanwhile Jenko is adjusting to college life perfectly. He finds a kindred spirit in dim-witted, frat boy football player, Zook (Wyatt Russell). The two are so much alike, despite the age difference, that they are practically finishing one another’s sentences. This budding bromance puts a strain on the relationship between Jenko and Schmidt. It’s their conflict that is at the movie’s heart…and to quote the Righteous Brothers, “will they ever get that feeling back again?”
“22 Jump Street” has some terrifically funny moments and Tatum and Hill each get a chance to shine separately several times. Tatum has become a true multi-faceted actor. He can handle the serious work, but he is really gifted with physical comedy material. Hill is also very good, but because we’ve known his comedic work for so long, through no fault of his own, his work is less surprising.
The film’s supporting cast adds some additional pizzazz. In addition to Jillian Bell’s fantastic efforts, Ice Cube and Nick Offerman are very good with their bombastic roles. Patton Oswalt has a small part as a professor and he is just hysterical. Rounding out the fun are the Lucas Brothers as Spike Lee look-alike twins Keith and Kenny Yang, who befriend Schmidt and Jenko and are so in sync with one another that they speak in unison. It’s a small bit, but an extremely funny one.
What makes “22 Jump Street” fun and superior to other buddy comedies is that Schmidt’s and Jenko’s partnership is treated like a real romance. Whatever it is, Tatum and Hill still have it. However, there is something about the film’s writing that feels off…something about it that doesn’t flow. The laughs come in segments and this segmented feel gives the film a disjointed tone. That said, the individual segments are often hilarious and the treatment of future “Jump Streets” will have you keeling over with laughter.