22 Jump Street

Let me get this out of the way right off the bat: 22 Jump Street is easily as good as, if not better than, 21 Jump Street.

Genre(s): Comedy

Director: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Actors: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Peter Stormare, Ice Cube

Year: 2014

MPAA Rating: R

Country: USA

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It’s just as clever, just as bro-tastic, just as wink-at-the-audience meta and just as funny as its predecessor… even though, as it outright acknowledges, it’s essentially just the same movie all over again, only with a bigger budget and more outrageousness.

This time, a massive smuggling sting gone horribly awry demotes undercover police partners Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) back to the Jump Street program where, once again, they’re dropped into the world of academia (college instead of high school this go-‘round) and tasked with finding the source of a dangerous new drug that recently killed a student on campus.

And, as before, both buds find their respective niches in their new environment: Jenko, a skilled athlete and grown-up frat boy, is immediately embraced by the football team (who also happen to make up much of the fraternity into which he’s instantly accepted); and Schmidt settles in with the comparatively less-rowdy arts crowd, including a comely coed (Amber Stevens) who knew the deceased. Unfortunately, as the fellas each relive, or improve upon, their younger days, they begin to drift apart… which could jeopardize their partnership and derail their investigation.

Feeling a sense of déjà vu? You should. But you know what? The film, co-directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (who also helmed The LEGO Movie) nonetheless feels completely fresh… and, yes, awesome. Sure, the key movements in the plot are textbook, but their execution isn’t. The script is sharp, filled with plenty of subtle asides and laugh-out-loud moments, and the players terrific.

As before, the chemistry between Tatum and Hill is what makes this whole thing work. They’ve just got it when they’re onscreen together – it’s relaxed, it’s familiar, it’s authentic and it’s really, really funny. That’s vital in a film like this (especially when it’s a franchise that will no doubt continue), and this duo has it in spades.

Just as strong is the supporting cast. Ice Cube reprises his role as perpetually pissed-off Captain Dickson, who’s grown even angrier, and Workaholics’ Jillian Bell is nothing short of brilliant as the deadpan, brutally honest roommate of Schmidt’s lady friend. Her ongoing jabs at how much Schmidt looks too old to be in college are absolutely priceless.

As the summer-movie season gets into full swing, this is a comedy that actually deserves all the hype it’s been getting. It’s as good as you hope it will be. And, if you check it out, be sure to stay through the credits for a hilarious glimpse at what could be coming down the pike next.

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