22 Jump Street (2014)

“Nobody cared about the Jump Street reboot, but you got lucky, so now this department has invested a lot of money to make sure Jump Street keeps going.”

22 Jump Street is 21 Jump Street all over again, but with it’s ‘meta-scope’ slammed into its highest possible gear. It knows what worked the first time round and it’s certainly not going to mess with a winning formula. Its self-awareness and witty smugness is on full display here. “It’s the same case! Do the same thing!” it yells directly to its lead characters and to audience expectations. All this intentional winking and self-referencing does its job exceedingly well and with hugely entertaining results.

22 Jump Street continues episodically from the previous film, complete with a ‘previously on Jump Street‘ epilogue. Returning is Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) as the mismatched super bros who conquered the hallways of high school and have now graduated to college. They’ve even moved across the street (obviously) leaving behind Korean Jesus and saying hello to their new headquarters and Vietnamese Jesus.

Back in an extended role, is the always angry and gruff Capt. Dickson (Ice Cube) barking out orders from a set that purposefully appears to be lifted straight from The Avengers. Their task? Infiltrate the dealer – find the supplier…again. We’ve seen this play out before, but this time we’re made fully aware that they’ve doubled their budget in an attempt to double their investment (wink). But as Jenko and Schmidt bumble their way through fraternities, improv nights and football games, they must make certain to not cause too much damage and go over budget (double wink).

The returning tandem of Hill and Tatum once again deliver barrels of energetic chemistry and laughter, showcasing a genuine bromantic connection that is always at the film’s core. Action-aficionado Tatum has proven previously his comedic chops, but they are exacerbated ten-fold standing alongside Hill. If this style of ‘meta’ comedy appeals to you, then the laughs-per-second ratio is off the charts. Jokes both verbal and physical play out effortlessly in such quick succession that I’m certain I missed a good third of the film recovering from the previous joke. This film will prove highly rewatchable.

Special mention must also go to supporting member Jillian Bell who’s snide and cynical roommate, Mercedes, is fully aware of the act Schmidt and Jenko are playing. She’s full of snarky quips that are equally as good as the one’s Hill throws back.

Earlier this year, directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (an impressive and exciting duo themselves) delivered what could be the best animated feature of the year inThe Lego Movie. Their highly-energetic and farcical film also clearly knew its purpose and was pointedly aware of the cliched tropes of animated films, subverting them in every which way they could. The results were fun, hilarious, and at times, rather poignant in what it was trying to say about societies need to conform.

With 22 Jump Street, the message isn’t quite so strangely poignant, but it does care enough to include reference to how college allows and encourages self discovery.

But educating the audience isn’t this film’s intention. Sequelling reboots is far too commonplace in Hollywood. Parodying this lazy and money-driven business structure is far from groundbreaking but it’s also proven to be quite difficult to do so consistently and effectively. So far, including The Lego Movie, marks two from two for directing duo Lord/Miller. The sequel can proudly boast that all of its meta-infused absurdity makes it funnier and even more ridiculously entertaining than the original. A rare feat to accomplish.

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