“22 Jump Street” fits the definition of “summer movie comedy.” It’s wild, fast and fun, a blend of comedy, action, chaos and requisite raunchiness. There’s some romance, too, but more bromance, in this New Orleans-filmed romp.
A sequel to the 2012 hit, “21 Jump Street,” “22 Jump Street” reteams Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as Schmidt and Jenko respectively, a pair of underachieving undercover cops. As in all buddy pictures, the guys are an unlikely pair of contrasting personalities who’ve come to respect each other and be best buds.
The respecting bit having been accomplished in “21 Jump Street,” what are writers to do in “22 Jump Street” but create conflict designed to break Schmidt and Jenko apart?
The movie’s writing team — Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel, Rodney Rothman and Hill — gets good comic mileage by sending Schmidt and Jenko back to school. The guys, who worked in a high school during “21 Jump Street,” are promoted to college in “22 Jump Street.”
The sequel presents college as a place of meeting new people and learning what one’s strengths are. There’s peer pressure, of course, and fraternities, cliques and noncommittal casual sex. Drugs, part of many students’ college experience, get Schmidt and Jenko assigned to MC State College.
The police believe a student’s murder is connected to a new drug on campus. Schmidt and Jenko, having been such an unlikely success story in their previous high school assignment, are called to duty. Their old boss, Captain Dickson, always a soft-spoken, slow-to-anger mentor to the boys, gives them news.
“You two sons of bitches are going to college!” he shouts.
“22 Jump Street” earns high grades for reuniting Hill and Tatum with rapper-actor Ice Cube, who co-stars as Dickson. Cube and his usually enraged captain — a takeoff on the many angry African-American police captains who’ve fumed and shouted in movies for decades — gets major laughs in this sequel.
The top-billed Hill and Channing execute plenty of funny business, too. When the social pressures of college life threaten Schmidt and Jenko’s friendship, clever dialogue and visuals follow. The dejected Schmidt feels left behind by the athletic Jenko.
While the team’s investigation goes nowhere, Schmidt’s solo part of the story introduces him to the arty kids on campus. His impromptu participation in a poetry slam is one of the film’s gentler, quieter comic bits. Schmidt’s poetry performance is more beatnik than slam.
Hill and Tatum handle much of the movie’s comedy workload, but the film wisely gives supporting characters good stuff to do, too. After Cube, Jillian Bell, a cast member in Comedy Central’s “Workaholics,” scores highest on the laugh scale as the college roommate from hell.
Staged mostly on the fictional campus of MC State (played by various New Orleans institutions of higher learning and Tad Gormley Stadium), “22 Jump Street” paints itself into an academic corner. There’s a rough transition from campus to spring break celebration in Mexico, but such a change of scene had to made.
As the action ramps up on spring break, the film finds a high-spirited way for Schmidt and Jenko to graduate to whatever new adventures they may have in a sequel likely to be named “23 Jump Street.”