Comedy/Animation duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have had a lot on their plate recently. Not only did they direct this film, but they also wrote and directed this year’s surprisingly-good animation powerhouse The Lego Movie. However, this uptick in productivity doesn’t mean that they didn’t put their best foot forward. 22 Jump Street is a sequel to their 2012 film 21 Jump Street, that itself is a reboot of an ’80s TV show. And this film knows exactly what it is. Laden with dozens, if not hundreds, of meta-jokes about sequels, 22 Jump Street doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The movie takes a little while to get on its feet though. The film tries a little too hard to prove that it’s self-aware, and subsequently becomes too self-aware. Instead of clueing the audience in that it’s aware of the clichés it’s using, the film at times almost becomes apologetic. However, as the movie settles in, the references become more subtle, and the laughs become more genuine.
Although it is no longer a surprise that Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are a very charismatic duo, they have even more chemistry in this film. The ensemble cast is also very strong. Ice Cube’s role is expanded, and his character doesn’t lose value as more screen-time is added. Peter Stormare plays a perfectly generic villain, and Wyatt Russell, Amber Stevens, and Jillian Bell play admittedly clichéd, but very entertaining college students.
Occasionally the film goes for some of the more low-hanging fruit, but a surprising amount of the jokes work. It’s quotable, fast-paced, and entertaining. Although the film jokes about how sequels are usually a step-down, I’d say that 22 Jump Street reaches the same level as its predecessor, if not going a step-up. If you didn’t enjoy 21 Jump Street, this film won’t change your mind about the franchise, but I definitely enjoyed myself. 8/10.