"22 Jump Street" attempts to continue the story of two undercover cops trying to locate the supplier of a new form of drug. Instead of continue, however, the film seemed to repeat its predecessor, "21 Jump Street." While the plot was a slight cookie cutter replica of the first installment, 22 was armed with a heightened sense of humor, and a stronger focus on the overall arc and friendship of its main characters.
Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) this time go undercover at a college, and basically attempt to replicate their past success when they went undercover at a high school. Unfortunately for them, it doesn’t go entirely according to plan, which underlines one of the main focuses of the film: doing the same thing or choosing a different path.
This question doesn’t only apply to Schmidt and Jenko’s methods at solving the case, but also to their bond and friendship. When entering the college social setting, Jenko meshes well with jocks Zook (Wyatt Russell) and Rooster (Jimmy Tatro), while Schmidt feels more akin to the introvert Art major Maya (Amber Stevens). This slightly pushes the two characters apart, and that dynamic gave the film a slightly less linear feel to it, and also set up some humorous exchanges between the two.
Overall, the humor of the film worked. Schmidt and Jenko deal yet again with Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) and the three have great comedic chemistry together. The film’s comedy is largely centered on homoerotic humor, but it doesn’t go too far or come off as appalling or distasteful. That, blended with the right chemistry with the right actors, helps the film avoid a letdown in the plot department.
Because the plot is too similar to the original, the film loses in that aspect. The humor saves it slightly, but so does the attempt at creating depth within the two main characters. It’s hard to find meaning in a film dedicated purely to comedy, but the effort in incorporating a message (choosing a different path and breaking free of routine) somewhat affords the film some complexity. That complexity would have been much more received, however, if done in a more inventive way plot-wise.
Final grade? B-