22 Jump Street is obvious.
22 Jump Street is a hot mess.
22 Jump Street is 20-30 minutes too long.
22 Jump Street is in many ways a carbon copy of 21 Jump Street.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot. 22 Jump Street is also incredibly funny and one of Summer 2014's first true popcorn flicks. In case you're wondering, that's a compliment.
If you can surrender yourself to the fact that pretty much everything in 22 Jump Street is intentional, then there's a really good chance that you're going to find yourself a lot like me - sitting in the movie theater recognizing all the film's flaws while also laughing your butt off at its willingness to go pretty much any direction with full-on gusto.
If you enjoyed 21 Jump Street, then it's fairly safe to say you'll find yourself enjoying the reuniting of officers Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum). Co-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who also gave us this year's The LEGO Movie, have created a film that essentially laughs at itself for following the formula that made the low-budget original a success.
22 Jump Street is a bigger, louder, and more expensive film that takes everything you loved about the original film and simply makes it bigger, louder, and more expensive.
While lots of films have tried to poke fun at themselves for such an approach, the vast majority have failed. There's something about the strong chemistry between Hill and Tatum and the writing prowess of Lord/Miller that has managed to let this film succeed where so many others have failed.
I suppose there is one difference in 22 Jump Street. This time, Schmidt and Jenko are going back to college rather than high school, though a good portion of the film also plays off the fact that both actors clearly look like they're 30-year-olds and everyone on campus seems to know it.
While the chemistry between Hill and Tatum helps to carry the film, 22 Jump Street doesn't always work. As noted, the film is a good 20-30 minutes too long and, while I'd stop short of calling the film homophobic, the film's rampant exploitation of the bromance element does start to get a tad uncomfortable the longer it's played out. This may as well be because the angle isn't particularly funny, and when certain lines land with a "thud" it feels particularly obvious.
To attempt to explain a storyline to you for 22 Jump Street would truly be a futile exercise. The film is a buddy flick that parodies buddy flicks including itself. It's a series of one-liners, witticisms, humiliations, physical comedy, and swagger. Both Hill and Tatum are incredibly winning here, with Tatum getting a terrific chance to flex his muscles while showing that he's a lot more than muscle. Hill, on other hand, gets to geek out and still get the girl. The supporting players, especially Amber Stevens and Jillian Bell, are given quite a bit of room to shine here as both Hill and Tatum are clearly comfortable sharing the spotlight.
You may not consider 22 Jump Street to be a brilliant film, and you probably shouldn't, but it's hard to picture you making it through the film without laughing your a** off on more than a few occasions. The film is far too intentional about what it's doing for it to be called anything resembling a guilty pleasure, but it's safe to say that it has been quite awhile since a film this messy has also been such an absolute blast.
What are you waiting for? Do exactly what you did before and get yourself to the theater.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic