One of the most endearing features of a comedy is an ability to take the piss out of itself. 22 Jump Street certainly isn’t lacking in this quality. Its prequel didn’t hold back in mocking its own origins in TV, and now the next instalment mocks itself for being a sequel. Twists are made on the original humour: high school is now college, Korean Jesus is now Vietnamese and the drugs are now much harder to find. While these frequent throwbacks do begin to get a little tiring, the plot soon builds up and the film begins to find a voice of its own.
The problem with endlessly referencing 21 Jump Street is that it makes it hard not to compare the two films, and in this scenario the second offering inevitably comes up short. 22 Jump Street returns to the college popularity stereotypes the first film so successfully and originally fought against, seeing Jonah Hill’s Schmidt return as bumbling cop and social reject, and Channing Tatum’s Jenko rise to be football jock and cop hero, emerging as a sort of hench Spider-Man.
Nonetheless, the reliance on these brawny vs. brainy stereotypes does make for some fantastic laughs, particularly in the action sequences which only get bigger, better and more unrealistic.
While the screenwriters are undeniably to praise for the gut-wrenching gags, Tatum and Hill should also be given credit. Schmidt and Jenko’s bromance (or perhaps just pure romance) is what forms the core of the film. Schmidt is the sidelined lover as Jenko finds comfort in the arms of an athletic blonde footballer. The homoeroticism is taken up a notch to even more hilarious and ridiculous levels. Ultimately, all the audience craves is the pair’s inevitable reunion.
The supporting cast is equally talented. Ice Cube returns as an even angrier Captain Dickson, as do Rob Riggle and Dave Franco in a brief and bizarre scene as the now incarcerated villains of the previous film. Wyatt Russell, Jimmy Tatro and psychopathic roommate Jillian Bell (particularly in her surreally sexual scenes with Hill) deliver wonderful turns. The film is full to bursting with comic talent.
Delivering more action, more gags, and more homoeroticism just about makes up for the weakening of storyline. 22 Jump Street has therefore made something which is incredibly rare in the world of comedy: a sequel which is equally funny as the original.