Saturday, June 21, 2014

'22 Jump Street' review

Back in 2009, nobody would have thought that an adaptation of a children's novel about food falling from the sky would work. However, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs ended up being an incredibly satisfying animated film. In 2012, the idea of adapting a police show from the 1980's and making a comedy out of it sounded ludicrous. But in the end, 21 Jump Street was a mostly enjoyable comedy. And if you had asked most people if they thought The LEGO Movie would be good before it became a smash hit in February 2014, the answer you would get the most is "no." Finally, if you had asked those same people if a sequel to 21 Jump Street that essentially repeats the entire plot of the first would work, they probably would have said no as well. What I'm trying to say here is that directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have been doubted all their life and yet, they consistently deliver. 22 Jump Street is another great addition to the Lord and Miller canon and one of the better films of 2014 so far. It's a film that is incredibly self-aware, but also hilarious from start to finish. I didn't expect to like this film, but I ended up loving every minute of it. 22 Jump Street is an absolutely fantastic comedy.

If you've seen 21 Jump Street, you know the plot of 22 Jump Street. Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are feeling good after the success of their undercover drug bust at a local high school. However, the Police Captain (Ice Cube) needs the two cops to go undercover again to stop the spread of a new synthetic drug called "WHYPHY" at a local college. The story is then repeated beat-for-beat, except that the screenwriters shake some things up. Instead of Schmidt being super popular, Jenko becomes a football star and ends up being best friends with Zook (Wyatt Russell), who might just be involved with the spread of the drug. On the other hand, Schmidt isn't so popular, but he does find a new love in Maya (Amber Stevens), an art student. Schmidt and Jenko fight, but end up teaming for a massive gunfight in Puerto, Mexico for Spring Break.

22 Jump Street is about as good as a comedy sequel can be. In fact, it's one of the stronger comedies I've seen in a long time (with the brilliant Neighbors and the awesome A Million Ways to Die in the West already under our belt, it's turning out to be a great summer for R-rated comedies). It's a whip-smart film that takes no prisoners. It makes fun of Hollywood, it makes fun of sequels, and it makes fun of itself. The fact that this movie is also just flat-out better than the original also helps. Lord and Miller keep most of the same beats, but throw a few twists in that had me laughing really, really hard. However, when they keep the same beats, they keep them exactly the same. The film repeats scenarios from the first film completely and it does it while making fun of the fact that the movie is exactly the same this time around. 22 Jump Street is simply a blast from start to finish. I loved this movie.

The main problem with the first Jump Street movie was that it was a little too long and the middle section was overly serious at times. 22 Jump Street is actually longer than its predecessor, and while you do feel the length at times, it's just so much funnier and so much more entertaining than 21 Jump Street that you won't mind. However, my second problem with 21 Jump Street was not a problem in this one. Of course, it goes through the exact same story, so Schmidt and Jenko are bound to fight at some point, which was a plot device that didn't work in the original. In 22 Jump Street, Schmidt and Jenko's relationship is treated in a much more humorous fashion and it makes the petty fights between the two very funny.

The great thing about 22 Jump Street is that it tells the exact same story as 21 Jump Street, but it tells it in a much better fashion. The film just feels so much cleaner and more polished and some of the new story twists help to add suspense to the film. The way that Lord and Miller switch up what happens to which character is also very refreshing and hilarious. For example, the way that Jenko's friends always ignore Schmidt is the exactly opposite of the original film, where Schmidt's friends ignored Jenko. That was just comic genius. The little self-aware jokes also helped. Sometimes I wished that there was more of that humor, just to make sure that Lord and Miller still knew that they were making a sequel that was almost completely identical to the original. However, if there had been more self-deprecating humor, it might have been detrimental to the film. All that matters is that the self-awareness is there and is incredibly funny.

The performances in this film are great. Jonah Hill is very funny in this movie, but I've never really found him to be that impressive in these movies. He's always doing his usual shtick. On the other hand, Channing Tatum is once again incredibly impressive and steals the movie. This dude just has the right comedic timing and his jokes consistently land. His character is dumb as rocks, but it's pretty obvious that Tatum is a very smart guy and a great comedian. Also, Ice Cube is so brilliant in this movie. He's not my favorite actor in the world, but he has a scene in this movie that is insanely funny. It had me laughing very hard. The supporting cast is also strong. Jillian Bell is one of the standouts as Mercedes, the awkward roommate of the girl who was killed by "WHYPHY." Wyatt Russell also delivers a breakout performance as Zook, the idiotic best friend of Jenko. All in all, this is a fantastic cast with a lot of comedic talent.

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller make movies like nobody else. In all of their films, there is an electric, palpable energy to all of the scenes. I took another look at The LEGO Movie and I really think that movie is so good because of the insane amount of energy injected into every scene. Watching a Lord and Miller movie is like watching a movie after drinking seventeen cups of coffee. 22 Jump Street is no different. They slow down for some quieter scenes every once in a while, but for the most part, the energetic feel is still there. From the opening scene set to "Turn Down for What" to the brilliant closing credits, 22 Jump Street is a fast-paced, high-energy piece of filmmaking.

One thing I can't stress enough about this movie is how funny it is. 22 Jump Street is insanely funny. If Neighbors hadn't already hit theaters, this would be the funniest movie of the year. No contest. It just happened to be released in a year where a lot of strong comedies are hitting theaters. But anyways, 22 Jump Street is a movie that will have you laughing constantly. If you don't understand that Lord and Miller are making fun of franchises and Hollywood, you might not get quite as much enjoyment out of this movie. But you will still laugh very, very hard.

22 Jump Street is just an extremely fun time at the movies. Several of the movies that I've seen recently have been lifeless and boring, so it was refreshing to see a movie that was just so much plain fun. However, 22 Jump Street wouldn't have worked if Lord and Miller weren't ready to make fun of themselves, while also repeating the exact same plot, only with a few new twists. The cast doesn't hurt as well and the brilliant action scenes only make the movie more fun. Plus, the end credits are amazing. I had a great time with 22 Jump Street and I really think that anybody who watches it will love the heck out of it.

THE FINAL GRADE:  A                                              (8.8/10)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)