Published on June 20th, 2014 | by admin
22 Jump Street – Film Review
Reviewed by Tony Phan on June 18th, 2014
Sony Pictures presents a film by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Produced by Neal H. Moritz, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum
Written by Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel and Rodney Rothman
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Ice Cube, Peter Stormare, Jillian Bell and Amber Stevens
Music: Mark Mothersbaugh
Editing: David Rennie
Running Time: 112 minutes
Released: June 19, 2014
Many sequels fall into the trap of repeating the same narrative formula of the preceding film. 22 Jump Street is no exception. However, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially when the formula works well and the creators are self-aware enough to acknowledge this. “Just do the exact same thing as before,” Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) and Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman) constantly remind Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill), our law-enforcing citizens.
In this instalment, our heroes, once again, are required to go undercover to solve a drug-related death – this time, as students of Vic State University. With Jenko as a fraternity jock and Schmidt as a poetry major, their aim is to infiltrate the dealers and find the supplier of the lethal study-party drug WHY-PHY – acronym for “Work hard, yes. Play hard, yes.” In their investigation, they encounter the same things seen in the first film – quirky students, incompetent teachers, drug-induced hallucinations, car chases and gunfights. And let’s not forget the obligatory penis jokes or spanners thrown into the bromance-works that is Jenko and Schmidt.
With 22 Jump Street, the element of bromance has been considerably intensified – jacked up, so to speak. The film is filled with borderline homoerotic dialogue not only between Jenko and Schmidt but also between Jenko and Zook (Wyatt Russell), his fellow footballer and new BFF. Yes, this frat pairing will easily go down in the anals annals of history. When you consider Channing Tatum’s unofficial status as gay icon (playing a male stripper in Magic Mike and being named People’s Sexiest Man Alive), it’s hard to not make a big deal out of it. Tatum unabashedly hams it up for that demographic very well. It’s also nice to see Jenko apologise for being a “homphone” in the past and drawing attention to the unfunniness of gay slurs. Hear that, Jonah Hill? So ironic.
Another welcome change to this franchise is the prominence of proactive female characters. Amber Stevens (90210, The Amazing Spider-Man) plays Maya, Schmidt’s feisty love interest who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. She certainly has a Solange-like don’t-mess-wit’-me vibe going on from the get-go. And her creepy room-mate, Mercedes (Jillian Bell from Comedy Central’s Workaholics), is as abrasive as they come, with razor-sharp one-liners and aggressive fists to match. The subversion of gender roles is also quite an interesting observation, even if they are just for comical effect. We don’t have damsels in distress in this film. Instead, we have “men in distress”, as Mercedes calls them. And it’s mostly Schmidt who’s the one having to come to terms with his passivity, while Jenko wears the metaphorical pants throughout the film.
22 Jump Street does have its mediocre and cheesy moments. The cheesiest one being the four-metre jump that Schmidt miraculously makes off a rooftop, allowing him to grab onto a helicopter’s landing skids. In previous scenes, his lack of athleticism and coordination was repeatedly highlighted. He even had trouble running down stairs. So to go from physical ineptitude to Superman-like powers in a short amount of time is simply ridiculous. Then again, that’s the type of movie this is. It isn’t serious Oscar-worthy stuff.
Like its predecessor, 22 Jump Street has plenty of silly hilarity and quotable lines. It would definitely be refreshing to have some queer and feminist interpretations of this film buzzing around the interweb somewhere. Why aren’t they cultural essentials already? For the most patient audience members who actually sit through the whole end credits, you will be duly rewarded with a final joke. Hint: It rhymes with grape. Well, almost.
Summary: Like its predecessor, 22 Jump Street has plenty of silly hilarity and quotable lines.