When the 21 Jump Street reboot was announced nearly everybody who heard the news let out an exhaustive groan. Quite audibly.
It was a weird couple of weeks.
With so many old TV and toy properties being picked up and dusted off for obvious cash-grabs, expectations were reasonably cynical. But when the movie came out the story changed. The popular opinion wasn’t just that the movie was good–but “surprisingly good”–an opinion I’d agree with. Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller subverted the audience’s expectations by implanting acknowledgements to our expectations with a meta, self-referential story line filled with satisfying action and genuinely funny material, in-part due to Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum’s great chemistry. Despite the wide-spread enjoyment of the first, however, people were still wary when the sequel 22 Jump Street was announced.
Because, y’know sequels can suck sometimes.
And dammit, Chris Miller and Phil Lord made fools out of us cynical bastards once again!
22 Jump Street‘s storyline seemingly takes place only a couple of months after the events of the first film, starting with a ridiculous action scene before jumping right into acknowledging that the movie is “doing the same thing (they) did last time” …except Hill and Tatum are being sent to college. This paves the way for more great comedic interactions between Tatum’s Jenko and Hill’s Schmidt as well as more great moments from our protagonists experiencing Greek life, lectures, dorm rooms, and art students. The story-line carries on at a suitably fast-pace, never necessarily feeling like it might be dragging–especially considering how the movie exists in part as a satire of action movies and action movie plot. As a result of this dedication to quicker pacing, however, the development of two or three side characters is sacrificed. Most notable of those under-developed side-characters is Maya, Schmidt’s love-interest, who never gets to have much of a purpose in the story outside of being somewhat of a comedic prop.
Despite the potential squandering of these characters, the movie managed to keep me locked into the consistently entertaining narrative. And although the story does poke fun at the idea of sequels retreading much of the same ground as their predecessors, 22 Jump Street never felt like it was telling the same jokes twice or revisiting the same action set-pieces. Instead, the movie used the new environment as a way to develop the relationship of Schmidt and Jenko even further in increasingly funny and ridiculous ways. By the end of the film, the characters’ partnership is reinvigorated and the story is wrapped up neatly, before the audience is treated to one of the best montages of recent movie memory.
22 Jump Street still remains a stand-out in the action-comedy genre–let alone this dismal summer line-up. Fans of the first film will undoubtedly enjoy more of the signature humor and newcomers will likely become new fans.