It’s a common rule of comedy sequels that they are not usually as good as the original movie that inspired them. Most people know this, even the makers of 22 Jump Street, who reference this fact itself in a scene that echoes one in the first. In fact, throughout the movie, reference is made to the fact that sequels are usually worst, overly hyped and have too much money spent on them considering they are usually doing exactly the same thing. The difference here is that it seems to work.
22 Jump Street is a very funny sequel. It may not reach the heights of the first but it definitely defies the Hollywood stereotype of a comedy sequel full of the same, rehashed, redone jokes that made the first in the series such a success. There is plenty of that too, with some scenes mirroring ones similar to the first, but overall, there is plenty of new ideas and more interesting situations to throw our two heroes into.
The first movie twisted the high school stereotype on its head, playing with the usual clichés that plague high school set movies and tv shows. The sequel goes for a different approach, playing on the usual clichés and highlighting their absurdity. From frat houses, college football and arty, slam poetry, each college stereotype is played on and used to decent comedy effect.
That is, of course, because of the strong central actors. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum slip comfortably into their roles that made the first movie such a success. Hill stretches his comedy talents to decent but hardly mind-blowing effect but it’s still Tatum who surprises, managing to play on his usual appeal, his body-building physic and even previous roles he may not be too proud of. It’s their bromance that keeps the movie ticking along and even though the story is decent enough, it’s nothing more than a way to push the central pair into different, more wild and silly, but often hilarious comedy situations.
One such situation is the highlight of the movie and pure comedy genius. It involves the third breakout star of the movie, Ice Cube, who literally steals any scene he is in and manages to get a decent storyline of his own. You will not see his involvement in the movie coming as it is played so low-key but the reveal and the subsequent scenes surrounding it make for some of the best parts of the film.
It is the weakness in overall story which means I doubt 23 Jump Street will or should ever be made. I can not see how they can keep the dynamic going and also keep the story original and fresh. There wasn’t anything new in 22 Jump Street and it feels like the movie got lucky with some of the jokes, playing on scenarios and aspects of college life that they may struggle to get away with in a third. Even the directors themselves seem to have this opinion, giving one of the greatest credits sequences I’ve ever seen; ambitious and funny.
Overall, there is a lot to love about 22 Jump Street. It is as funny as the first, with Tatum and Hill stepping up their performances and playing on the bromance that made the first movie so watchable and hilarious. There is some retreading of old ground and the story is a weakness but as a way of getting the two cops from one silly but funny situation to another, it serves it’s purpose well. I just doubt we’ll ever see a convincing or successful 23 Jump Street.
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)