22 Jump Street (3 1/2 out of 5 Stars)
Directed by: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street, and The Lego Movie)
Screenplay by: Michael Bacall, Oren Uzeil, and Rodney Rothman
Story by: Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, and Ice Cube
How do you top one of the most surprising success stories of 2012, copy it, and tell people that you are copying the original. Movies based on television shows have been entertaining in the past, but none have reached level of quality of 21 and 22 Jump Street. The Brady Bunch Movie tackled that self aware humor, and the cast was talented carrying off an imitation, but this film does more than just copy the characters it has created its own niche buddy cop film.
22 Jump Street starts with the dynamic duo of Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) attempting to be bad ass cops. Once again they fail, and are forced to do something they are good as Captain Dickson says the two might as well repeat what they did in the first film, except this time its off to college because they look "too old" for high school. Truth of the matter is the two look too old for college too, and this gag runs throughout the film. Once again Schmidt and Jenko must track down a drug dealer who caused a students death.
The Jump Street sequel is just plain funny, and I must applaud them for not putting all of the funniest jokes in the trailer. Jump Street succeeds because it keeps up the pace of the first film using self aware humor of both the franchise and sequels to hit you hard with laughs. The film never takes itself too seriously in this vein, but also portrays the realistic stereotypes of college groups, and takes the friendship of these two to a whole new level. Michael Bacall who wrote the first film returns, and he has created such a dynamic pairing/couple with Hill and Tatum its impossible not to be charmed and laugh at their chemistry. Without spoiling too many of the best jokes, most of them allude to their friendship, as well, more than friendship. I love that the film while poking fun at this takes male friendship to level it deserves, its both hilarious and cute.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller who also directed the first film, are unsung dynamic duo behind the scenes, These two are the star directors of the year, they have not one, but two huge films released this year, the other being The Lego Movie, which featured guest voice work from Hill and Tatum. Lord and Miller's films are straight to the point, self aware, funny, and often action packed quick paced stories. What more can you ask? Lord and Miller know how to deliver, and this film's credits sequence is a testament to meta nature of film reaching main stream popular culture.
You can't write a review of this without of course talking about Hill and Tatum, who are probably one of my favorite on screen teams. They work so well together, and both are hilarious. These two men carried the film, and made everything that much better because of their dynamic. 22 Jump Street is proof that a self-aware sequel, can be both entertaining, and well-mad!