Every summer Hollywood releases a number of sequels. Long story short, because of the built-in name recognition, despite the increased cost, studios feel like sequels are safer bets and usually earn a significant amount of their costs back.
“22 Jump Street” starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum picks up where the original left off, with Schmidt and Jenko (Hill & Tatum respectively) being sent to college to investigate a new drug called WHYPHY.
The main point of this sequel seems to be making fun of sequels, the increased cost, lack of creativity, the repetition. It is this type of self-aware humor that made the first film as much fun as it is. In the original, the jokes were directed at the recent spate of television to film adaptations. The original is no classic, but it is funny. In this sequel, all of the humor derives from the fact they are making a sequel. And this is enough to fuel a good portion of the film.
After a brief opening segment, Schmidt and Jenko are called in to see Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman) who openly derides sequels before sending them to the new headquarters at 22 Jump Street. Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) gives them a tour of the state-of-the-art facility, gleefully pointing out all of the expensive equipment that they will never use. Dickson sends them to the local college, to find the source of WHYPHY. Once they get to the campus, they begin to go to class and try to find out some information by pretending to be students. But the actual students seem less accepting and quickly peg the two undercover cops for what they are. Jenkins meets Zook (Wyatt Russell), a carbon copy who is on the football team and head of the most popular frat. Sensing a kindred spirit, Zook urges Jenkins to join both. Schmidt meets Maya (Amber Stevens), the former roommate of the student who died taking the drug. They begin a relationship and Schmidt has to deal with her new roommate, Mercedes (Jillian Bell), whose caustic attitude constantly puts a kink in Schmidt’s ‘plans’. As they begin to get comfortable living the life they never had, they also have to figure out who is distributing this deadly drug. The actual investigation seems to become more of a nuisance.
You will realize by this point that this film is pretty much exactly the same as “21” prompting you to look for something else, to hold your attention, anything new and exciting. And when you don’t find it, this becomes a problem. It seems like they put all of their energy into the self-referential jokes and didn’t really care about making anything about the actual story different. This may have been the plan all along. If you think about it, most episodes of a television show are very similar, with character names and place names changed. Perhaps, they are going for this type of feel. It is a cute idea, but it doesn’t work. There is something missing, something to catch and hold our attention.
Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (“The LEGO Movie”, “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 1 & 2”, “21 Jump Street”) and written by Jonah Hill and three others, this sequel is similar to their other works. The jokes come fast and furious as they seem to throw anything and everything at us. Some of these jokes work, some don’t. The jokes that do work are usually pretty good, helping us coast through the bits that don’t. In “22”, the jokes are too self-referential and little new is brought to the project.
“22 Jump Street” is an okay way to waste a little time on a hot summer day.