Sunday, June 15, 2014

22 Jump Street Review

22 Jump Street Review

I did not exactly know what to expect when I took my dad to see “22 Jump Street” this afternoon. I knew I liked the “21 Jump Street” when it came out in 2012. I knew that I had liked all of the trailers from the sequel. I knew that I particularly liked Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Rob Riggle and Dave Franco from the first film and I knew they’d all be back in some capacity for this sequel. Out of all the things I was or was not expecting from this sequel, I certainly was not expecting to be surprised. The best part about this surprise was that it did not come until well into the film.

Worried about seeing “22 Jump Street” without seeing “21 Jump Street?” Well, I highly recommend leaving the worry at the door. The film does a really nice job catching the audience up on what transpired before. In a humorous “previously on ‘21 Jump Street’” montage, we see a quick but sufficient recap of the first film. Remember, “21 Jump Street” was based on an old television series of the same name, a television series that gave birth to Johnny Depp’s acting career (hence his cameo in the first film), so to catch the audience up in this fashion was a stroke of genius and a fun way to bring the audience up to speed.

After the opening montage is done, we quickly meet up with Schmitt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum). They are no longer affiliates of 21 Jump Street, but they have moved up to being full-blown undercover detectives. We see them try to take down a group of drug dealers, which goes painfully wrong. While confronting Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman), Hardy decides to reinstate Schmitt and Jenko back into the Jump Street program. This time, as first film promised, the boys are headed to college to investigate a mysterious student’s death from a new, exotic drug that is hitting college campuses. In this sequel, Jenko joins the college’s football team and quickly gets in with the football frat house, while Schmitt makes friends with the art majors at the college. They quickly grow apart which effects the investigation, but become friends again for the film’s big finish.

After reading that paragraph, you are probably thinking that all “22 Jump Street” does is tread water. Well, for the most part, it does tread water. At first, I surely thought that I was going to hate “22 Jump Street,” not understanding why they would want to make the same movie twice without adding anything new, creative or unique to the sequel. I thought “22 Jump Street” was going to be “The Hangover: Part II” all over again and I was going to leave the theater red-faced and ranting. As the film moves along however, I learned that “22 Jump Street” is not just a sequel but a parody on sequels. If you pay close attention to the entire movie, directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are poking fun at the conventions and norms of sequels. This is the genius behind “22 Jump Street,” it’s a movie that knows it’s a sequel and it plans to rub it in your face. But just when you think you know how the film will end, and you think you know who the villain is, the film takes the film in a completely different direction. It does so in fun, unique way and it made me fall in love with the movie.

Both Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill both do incredible work together in the film. If you see these guys talking about the film on talk shows and interviews, you can tell that they love working together and they love the movie they are making. That passion for the project they are both involved in really shows in their performances. They are both hysterical in the film and when they have to get emotional, they do so in an excellent way. Last night, I reviewed “Ride Along,” with Ice Cube. While I did not care for the film so much, I did enjoy Ice Cube’s work in it. I enjoyed his presence once again in “22 Jump Street.” Ice Cube is perfecting the hard-boiled, no-nonsense police officer onscreen. The real discovery of the film is watching actors Wyatt Russell and Amber Stevens, who both play college students in the film and come across both Schmitt and Jenko. They do some of the very best work in the entire film and I hope to see more of them as the years push on. I also liked the many cameos from Queen Latifah, Anna Faris, Bill Hader and H. Jon Benjamin, all of whom do good work.

You may think you know “22 Jump Street” but this movie takes all the rules of the sequels, exploits them, and then throws them out the window.  Just as the film’s ending credits promise a life-long string of sequels to come, I hope that another film is in the works and I hope it continues to work as well as this one did.

FINAL GRADE: A-

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