This year’s best comedy has arrived. 22 Jump Street is bigger, better, cleverer and especially much, much sillier than its predecessor. It revels in the machismo and petty squabbles of Schmidt and Jenko, the film’s two moronic main characters who seem to have gotten even dumber since their first stab at undercover work in 21 Jump Street. While Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum steal the show performing the character’s thickheaded antics, endearing bromance and foulmouthed dialogue, it’s really the writing that shines. The film kicks off with a “previously on”, a playful wink to the movie’s TV show origins, then dives straight into sequelitis jokes, some brilliant slapstick and comes up with completely idiotic and inspired things to say for all the knucklehead characters. 22 Jump Street is 112 minutes long but it doesn’t feel like it at all; it zips by, moves along splendidly and is unrelentingly funny at times. This is one of those exceptions: a sequel that surpasses the first entry in every possible way.
This time around Hill’s Schmidt and Tatum’s Jenko get sent to college after they completely screwed up a regular police job. As their Deputy Chief puts it, they failed because they moved out of their comfort zone, forgot what made everything work during their first go-round. It’s the same kind of meta humor, the stabs at the Hollywood system, that worked so well for 21 Jump Street‘s opening moments, and 22 Jump Street focuses on these types of jokes even more. There’s a hilarious sequence in the middle of the film where Schmidt and Jenko are particularly careful not to cause too much destruction, because of the “department”‘s budget restrictions, and it plays incredibly well. It’s the constant and usually off-beat pairing of witty comedy and ridiculous action is what makes this sequel work so well and, while the start-up is a bit slow, 22 Jump Street just doesn’t let it up. It’s rapid-fire comedy, where the jokes fly even faster than the bullets, and by adding a lot of variety to the humor, the attempts to make the audience laugh never get stale. There’s physical comedy, crude humor, complete absurdity, meta fun, and the list goes on. It’s the blend of all these elements that makes the movie work so well, a fantastic job by directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller who really get all the comedy down, know how to direct the action and also even manage to add some oddly touching moments that are full-on weird at the same time.
Additionally the stars lend an incredible sense of the charm to the movie. Tatum’s performance as Jenko, a dimwitted boy in a man’s body, steals every scene he’s in with his fantastic comedic timing and not too bright facial expressions when he spouts lines like “I’m your best nightmare!” before he thinks about it for a moment and then corrects himself. Jonah Hill’s fast-talking Schmidt on the other hand is entirely awkward in a completely different way; a clingy and insecure teddy bear of man who looks up to his partner like he’s his big brother. It’s these two’s dynamic that lends the film its warm heart, which really gets you invested in the ludicrousness of the story because these two guys are just so easy to root for. Also brilliant is Ice Cube as the couple’s boss, a man who gets angrier and angrier throughout the movie. He plays off Tatum and Hill wonderfully, something that’s especially clear in a scene that takes place in his office (which Schmidt refers to as a cube of ice) while Jenko has an epiphany that has a little something to do with a factor that binds both his partner and Ice Cube’s Captain Dickson.
22 Jump Street is clever at being dumb, which makes for a barrage of great jokes, wonderful performances and likely 2014’s best comedy. 9/10