22 Jump Street
Director: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Screenwriters: Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel, Rodney Rothman
Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Amber Stevens, Jillian Bell, Nick Offerman, Rob Riggle, Dave Franco
Columbia Pictures | Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Rated R | 112 Minutes
Release Date: June 13, 2013
“Hey! Stop fuckin’ with Korean Jesus. He ain’t got time for yo problems! He’s busy… with Korean shit!” – Ice Cube, 21 Jump Street
Back in 2008, when Columbia Pictures announced they were developing a film adaptation of 21 Jump Street, I was wracked with cynicism. “Really?” I asked incredulously. “Because Starsky & Hutch and Bewitched did so well?” My cynical nerd-brain jumped immediately to the place it so often does these days, “Just what we need, another reboot that no one asked for!”
I was pleasantly surprised, however, to discover that this revamp wasn’t a gritty, self-serious take like Michael Mann’s Miami Vice, but rather an uproarious action-comedy by the directing duo of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. And I certainly wasn’t expecting 21 Jump Street to be such a smart, self-reflexive satire of ’80s buddy cop flicks and teen movie tropes.
21 Jump Street made $200 million at the box office (on a $42 million budget), making it one of the highest grossing comedies ever. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (Fuck you science!) to see why Columbia Pictures would green-light a sequel. As flops like Caddyshack II, Blues Brothers 2000, and Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd have taught us, however, most comedy sequels are superfluous enterprises; lazy, perfunctory attempts to cash in on “brand recognition.” Luckily, 22 Jump Street is fully aware of this and takes every opportunity to lampoon its own existence, poking fun at the fact that they’re doing the exact same thing again.
Following their success in the 21 Jump Street program, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are back on the streets, chasing down drug dealers. Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman) puts the duo back on the program to work for Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) – now located across the street at 22 Jump Street. Their assignment is to go undercover as college students and locate the supplier of a drug known as “WHYPHY” (WiFi) that killed a student on campus. As Ice Cube said in the first film, “Infiltrate the dealers, find the supplier!”
This time around, Jenko is big man on campus. Instead of chilling in the chemistry lab with geeks, he joins a fraternity and becomes best bros with Zook (Wyatt Russell) and Rooster (Jimmy Tatro), a couple of meatheads who convince the thirtysomething undercover cop to join the football team. As for Schmidt, he infiltrates the bohemian art major scene and becomes entangled in a series of awkward hook-ups with Maya (Amber Stevens).
Combining the bromantic chemistry between Tatum and Hill with goofy, good-natured humor, 22 Jump Street is as consistently funny as it is excessively over the top. Lord and Miller (The LEGO Movie) have made the rare sequel that improves upon its predecessor. In the first film, the Jump Street operation is restarted because “The guys in charge of this stuff lack creativity and are completely out of ideas.” Here, we’re reminded that – because the first
operation film was so successful – the department studio is doubling the budget this time. As Hardy explains, “We’ve doubled the budget, as if that would double the profit.”
It’s these kinds of in-jokes that make 22 Jump Street an accessible, almost interactive commentary on remake/reboot culture. The film’s end credits propose a universe in which infinite Jump Street sequels could exist – it’s a hilarious, subversive sequence that pokes fun at the studio system but simultaneously gives Columbia exactly what they want: a starting point for the inevitable 23 Jump Street.
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