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Movie review: '22 Jump Street'

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22 Jump Street

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It’s generally not such a great thing when a sequel to a good movie is made. It’s not so bad if the movie can poke fun at the fact that it’s an unnecessary sequel. But if the movie can made fun of its sequelness in a way that fits into the context of the story—well, that’s a wonderful thing indeed.

22 Jump Street” is directed by the comedic geniuses Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, and is a sequel to “21 Jump Street”, which was itself a reboot of a television show. It had everything against it, but thanks to a legitimately funny script and the casting of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum for the leads—a pair with strangely wonderful chemistry—“21 Jump Street” was a critical and commercial success, and “22 Jump Street” is perhaps even better.

The movie opens with cops Jenko (Tatum) and Schmidt (Hill) performing a drug bust on a supplier known as The Ghost (Peter Stormare)—or at least, attempting to. When they let the bad guys get away it’s determined that Jenko and Schmidt should just do the same exact thing they did last time. So, despite their objections, the duo are sent back to Jump Street (the headquarters now moved to an improved space due to an increased budget thanks to the events of the previous movie) where Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) gives them a new mission. This time, they are going undercover at a local college, where a new drug known as WhyPhy is making the rounds. But Jenko and Schmidt find that it doesn’t always work to do things the same way twice, and their relationship suffers a strain as Jenko makes friends with a like-minded guy on the football team and Schmidt is left behind.

“22 Jump Street” breaks the sequel mold by flat out admitting that it isn’t unnecessary, while also cleverly pointing out how repeating a good formula doesn’t usually have the exact same effect. But it manages to accomplish this in a way that works within the context of the story, so the viewer is never taken out of the movie. And it’s hilarious—in fact, the whole movie, not just the sequel jokes, is funny all the way through. “22 Jump Street”, like its predecessor, doesn’t rely on gross potty jokes for humor. Sure, the jokes are stupid, but in a good way, and range from one-liners to awkward dialogues between Jenko and Schimdt to slapstick.

Tatum and Hill continue to have surprisingly good chemistry, the closeness of their characters often being likened to an old married couple. Ultimately, just like the average college student, the movie is about them trying to find themselves and figuring out if their relationship still factors in to whatever path they want to take. Hill is known for comedy, but Tatum only recently burst onto the comedy scene, and he’s great at it, his comedic timing always perfect. But scene-stealer Ice Cube is still the best part of the movie, his foul mouth and extreme facial expressions contributing to the hilarity.

“22 Jump Street” does, as it often suggests, do a lot of the same things as the first movie. Schmidt meets a girl he has to lie to about his identity, Jenko hangs out with some new people, and the two find themselves going down different paths and questions their friendship. Yeah, it’s a bit repetitive, but each thing that happens has a new, funny twist, so it never really feels like you’re watching the same movie.

Oh, and if you can’t get enough sequel-related humor, be sure to stay for the credits sequence at the end of the movie. It’s almost as good as the movie itself, and honestly, I wouldn’t mind more of those sequels being made a reality.

Runtime: 112 minutes. Rated R for language throughout, sexual content, drug material, brief nudity and some violence.

Check out showtimes for this movie and more at the following St. Louis-area theaters:

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