Movie Review | 22 Jump Street
Movie summary: After making their way through high school (twice), big changes are in store for officers Schmidt and Jenko when they go deep undercover at a local college. (IMDb)
As mentioned in the review of 21 Jump Street, I only saw that movie days before 22 Jump Street came out and it is to the latter's eternal credit that not once did it feel like too much of a good thing. Instead, it felt like very much of a good thing followed by very much an incredible thing, because this movie is one of the best sequels ever made.
Obviously, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are back as Schmidt and Jenko respectively, but neither the actors nor the characters are repeating themselves. There's a helpful 'Previously on' segment at the start of the movie to show how they got where they are, but also shows how far they've come by the time this movie ends.
Once again, both stars prove how incredibly funny they are, whether they're slyly referencing the first movie, breaking the fourth wall or simply ending up in a situation where they have no clue what's happening. It's also very funny how they really play up the romance part of 'bromance', with several talks sounding very much like something out of a rom-com.
What makes it work even better is how there is effectively a 'love' square thanks to each of them having their own distraction away from each other. Schmidt meets the lovely Maya (Amber Stevens), who has a family secret that proves both highly surprising and provides several of the funniest scenes in recent years.
Jenko, thanks to excelling at American Football, befriends 'Zook' (Wyatt Russell) and starts spending more and more time with him, much to the frustration of the jealous Schmidt. The bickering back and forth between the two cops eventually drives them apart following a talk that sounds exactly like a break-up.
Thankfully, in one of the many improvements to the already-excellent original, there is also a pretty good antagonist this time, although it's not quite who you'd expect. I won't say any more than that to avoid spoilers, but they are also very, very funny and there's an excellent (and apparently entirely improvised in one take) scene between them and Schmidt late on that is as hilarious as it is awkward.
Overall, it's really difficult to describe just why 22 Jump Street is better than the first movie without repeating myself from Monday's review and saying 'imagine this but 10% better all round', but even that would be doing this movie a disservice. The feel, tone and sense of humour to the movie, plus the excellent combination of action and comedy allow everything to remain familiar, but the new location and an almost entirely new supporting cast allow it to be almost entirely different too.
Perhaps the most significant change is that everything is perhaps a little more exaggerated and a little more 'unrealistic' this time around. The best moments from this movie wouldn't really work in 21 Jump Street thanks to how cartoonish everything is here, but the difference is also never big enough to make it instantly obvious how things have altered between movies - even watching them almost back to back like I did originally.
And, just to really drive home the point, even the commentary for 22 Jump Street is funnier than that for the first movie, It's still the same four - Lord and Miller, the co-directors, plus Hill and Tatum - but they clearly all know each other better and get on well enough that they're even more comfortable joking around, teasing each other and even pointing out moments when they mess up on-screen. Again, a Jump Street commentary track is funnier than most modern 'comedies'.
I did want to end by saying how this is one of the best comedy sequels ever made, but how many good comedy sequels have there actually been? It's not a very long list, which is why I said at the start of this review that 22 Jump Street is just one of the flat out best sequels ever and I honestly believe that to be true - considering how high a bar the first movie set, this movie is a genuinely astounding achievement.
22 Jump Street isn't just a fantastic action comedy in its own right, but one of the greatest sequels ever made, combining just enough from the original to remind us why we love Schmidt and Jenko so much, while adding so much new stuff that it never feels like a repeat of what we've already seen. Even the end credits are incredible, and the commentary is again brilliant and almost one of the best comedies of recent years on its own.
Why a 10/10? 22 Jump Street could have offered up just more of the same, but Lord and Miller are so much better than that, giving us just enough of what made the first movie so damned good, while providing enough new ground to cover that it keeps things interesting - especially the constantly-evolving relationship between Schmidt and Jenko.
The decision to push everything just that little bit further helps immensely - everything's a little more cartoonish, but neither the comedy nor the action goes far enough to break your sense of immersion. This means that 22 Jump Street can get away with sequences that the first movie could never have done and still feel like a natural continuation of events.
This really is the perfect blend of giving the audience something familiar and something fresh at the same time, balancing the two to perfection. It really is difficult to imagine how an action-comedy sequel could be done any better than this - which seems to be a potential acknowledge by end credits warning just how things could go terribly, terribly wrong when trying to milk a franchise for all it's worth.