OK, once again, there are a couple of things that we want to say about this film before we get started with our actual review. First off, while we did (marginally) like this film better than the first outing (which we didn’t like at all), we still had major issues with the film (We feel that it is probably one of the smartest stupid films that we’ve ever seen — and we’ll get to why in just a bit.)
The second thing is that, as we all have heard by now, the week prior to the release of the film there was an incident Where Jonah Hill, was apparently harassed by Paparazzi and he responded to them by using a homophobic slur. Hill then took to the nighttime talk show talk circuit and apologized for his remarks. Only, about halfway into the film 22 Jump Street, there is and event where a character uses that same slur against Hill and Tatum (who could honestly be referred to as the (intentionally) Ambiguously Gay Duo) that mirrored what “happened” to Hill. This results in a line a dialogue from Tatum that virtually replicates the apology Hill used to excuse his actions. Needless to say, this leads us to believe that the event that purportedly “occurred” between Hill and the Paparazzi was actually a staged event designed to fake a scandal and thus allow Hill to get on all these talk shows and thus build press for the film; which makes Hill either the savviest marketer in the business, or the biggest douchebag in Hollywood.
Having said all of that, here is our take on the film itself. Having made it through high school (twice, once for real, and once as undercover cops), there are apparently some big changes are in store for officers Schmidt and Jenko when they go deep undercover at a local college (only not so much). You see, as it turns out, as “regular” undercover cops they are screw-ups, but as cops going undercover in a school environment, they are considered superstars. So their captain tells them to return to Jump Street and “Do exactly what they did before” and do it “Exactly the same way” (a not so subtle reference that most sequels are essentially the same film, just a year or two later). So back to school, only this time they are going to college. However, when Jenko (Tatum) meets a kindred spirit on the football team, and Schmidt (Hill) 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.
The film is full of meta self-referential verbal and visual gags, as well as a metric-ton of sight-gags and other goofiness (all of which make it the smartest stupid film we’ve ever seen). As the two of them continue to riff on cracking the fourth wall, they — not so slyly — let the audience know that they are actually in on the joke. Only they spend way too much time trying to convince us (and themselves) that they are wicked smart, and über cool, and not nearly enough time actually acting in the film, all of which simple serves to undermine whatever they are attempting to do at the time. Ultimately, the final 10 minutes of the film (where they postulate what the next dozen or so sequels will be like) proves to be the best gags of the entire film. Oh, and there is a short Easter Egg clip that runs Marvel Style at the very end of the credits that is very nearly worth sticking around to see.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.