22 Jump Street review: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum bring the bromance back

Mihir Fadnavis

Jul 31, 2014 16:17:17 IST

Five years ago Phil Lord and Chris Miller caught everyone’s attention with the hilarious Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, an animation film filled with off-kilter, nerdy jokes. Then, they went on to damage ribcages around the world with the singularly howlarious 21 Jump Street and followed it up with the funniest movie of 2014, The Lego Movie. Lord and Miller are seemingly unstoppable because 22 Jump Street combines all the goodies from their previous work while adding a few new ones to make one entertaining ball of mayhem.

22 Jump Street continues the goofy adventures of the 21 Jump Street duo, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) as they graduate to going undercover at a university. What makes Lord and Miller’s films so much fun is that they’re all self-aware. So this isn’t just another sequel where the heroes do the exact same thing on a bigger budget. This is a sequel in which everyone — from the actors to the directors and the audience — knows they’re doing the exact same things but on a bigger budget.

Schmidt and Jenko’s new office, 22 Jump Street, has moved one block and is literally shiny, glossy and big for no valid reason. Instead of the Korean Jesus from the previous film’s office, there’s now a Vietnamese Jesus and it’s used to take a potshot at Hollywood’s blindness to diversity with the leads’ inability to spot the difference. Nick Offerman’s Deputy Chief Hardy tells Schmidt and Jenko in as many words that the Jump Street program reboot was once thought to be a disaster, but became a runaway success so a second mission was inevitable. Hill and Tatum somehow manage to lodge their tongues firmly in their cheeks while they’re told all this.

Just like in the first movie, Schmidt and Jenko have one simple mission: go undercover in order to infiltrate the drug dealers and find the suppliers. With the issue of a ‘plot’ quickly out of the way, 22 Jump Street storms head-on into becoming the most bromantic movie we’ve seen.

Schmidt and Jenko take the “bros before hoes” notion to galactic levels. Short of having sex, they do everything that you expect of a couple. Their friendship is actually stronger than any marriage. One of the funniest moments of the film involves a break up between the two, when Jenko finds another friend in his football teammate and Schmidt feels insecure and unloved. Later, Schmidt applies sunscreen at the back of Jenko’s neck. “You missed a spot,” he says emotionally. Hill and Tatum are keenly aware of the setup and they play their stock characters to the hilt, milking every joke to its goofiest.

Much of what makes 22 Jump Street so much fun is the perfect casting. You could ask Hill and Tatum to just stroll across the camera together and they’d bring pure comedy gold to the screen. Hill may be the better actor, but Tatum steals the show this time around. Whether he pretends to be a Mexican with an amusingly terrible accent or thinks ‘carte blanche’ is the same as Cate Blanchett, Tatum careens into his dumb jock character. Lord and Miller even give his character a story arc to make him question himself and live his dumb jock character with pride instead of being embarrassed by it. Dickson gets some extra screen time and Ice Cube is as foul mouthed as ever. The biggest surprise, however, is the relative newcomer Jillian Bell who plays a hilariously bizarre, unpredictable and neurotic roommate.

Lord and Miller spare no expense and even take a dig at the moronic action films of Michael Bay and his love for pointless chase scenes. There’s also a bombastic, heroic showdown at Spring Break, an old favourite of coming-of-age college sagas. The satire of the action genre is not as effective as in films like Hot Fuzz for example, because so much of 22 Jump Street is about Schmidt and Jenko that Peter Stormare as the villainous Ghost is severely underdeveloped. But then again, 22 Jump Street isn’t about the action or the drama or the bad guy. It’s about Schmidt and their bromance coming of age.

And just to underscore this point, the end credits — which are the cleverest movie outro since Jackie Chan’s credit roll outtakes — show the future of Jump Street as an unending series of sequels (including “2121 Jump Street, Space Odyssey”). It’s Lord and Miller’s equivalent of “happily ever after” and thanks to how hysterical the fictitious Jump Street sequels, they do in fact bring a tear to your eye.

Updated Date: Jul 31, 2014 16:20:10 IST