Anything that popular has to produce a talented sequel and now we have the well-entitled 22 Jump Street, a follow-up that is just as a daft, loud and self-aware as the original. In fact, it might even be better because it pokes fun at the very nature of sequels and the fact that they are usually disappointing.
Basically, an audience just wants the same film again but just different. 22 Jump Street just about does it proud.
The film does nothing to tamper with a winning formula, it just deconstructs that formula before our very eyes. Once again, officers Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) are dispatched on an undercover assignment with the warning that things are “ always worse the second time”.
When drugs kingpin The Ghost (Peter Stormare) eludes them they are returned to Jump Street and the jurisdiction of Captain Dickson (Ice Cube). That means assuming the identities of brothers Brad and Doug McQuaid and going undercover to a local college in search of a new drug named whyphy (get it?).
A proud Jenko announces that he is the first person in his family “ to pretend to go to college”. He’s soon the star jock and thriving in his new environment. Schmidt struggles but finds some solace in his attraction to art student Maya (Amber Stevens).
Could this be the end of their beautiful friendship? Are they just two people who want different things from life? It doesn’t look good, especially when Jenko suggests they should be able to “ investigate” other people.
All of the time spent chasing the bad guys and brandishing guns is really window dressing. The real heart of 22 Jump Street is the relationship between the two cops. When people discussed the great chemistry between Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, they claimed that he gave her class and she gave him sex appeal. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are equally generous in their gifts.
Tatum has a natural, athletic grace but he seems much more relaxed and able to play the fool with Hill in attendance. Jonah Hill can seem a little bit of a brash, smart aleck but Tatum makes him more human and a little more vulnerable.
The film makes great capital out of their physical differences as Tatum leaps into action man mode while Hill goes huffing and puffing up a flight of stairs. It is all done with affection and the film works because they clearly enjoy each other’s company and the kind of silliness we used to see in the glory days of Leslie Nielsen.
A strong supporting cast includes a scene-stealing turn from Keith and Kenny Lucas as half-black, half-Chinese twins with a fondness for chemical substances and it is worth staying through the closing credits for glimpses of further Jump Street sequel ideas that would send the dynamic duo to everything from a cookery school to a Sunday school.
It is uneven and perhaps a smidgen too long but 22 Jump Street certainly has fun trying to keep us entertained and hits the target often enough not to disappoint anyone who enjoyed the original.