Review: 22 Jump Street

Of late, the cinematic genre tag “parody” has been abused to the point that it has become equated with Seltzer & Friedberg‘s outright bastardization of the ZuckerAbrahamsZucker school of referential film comedy.

It’s the Miami Vice reboot as it should turned out (turned out for WHAAAAT….)

In 22 Jump Street, the sequel to the big-screen adaptation of the ’80s action series about a bunch of young-looking cops going undercover in high schools to investigate youth-related crimes, protagonists Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill, also credited co-scriptwriter here just as in the last one) stake out Metro City College, where a new drug called “whyphy” (work hard, yeah! play hard, yeah!) is taking root among its party-hardy club kids  (and claimed a victim).

Sounds familiar?  Yeah, you betcha!

That is the whole beauty of this installment, to point out, for one, the ridiculousness of the “bigger, the better” mantra that most sequels subscribe with.  For starters, their headquarters had been relocated from the Korean Catholic church at 21 Jump Street to a Vietnamese Catholic church at 22 Jump Street.  More than that, the interiors of their new HQ are sleek enough to double as the SHIELD Heli-Carrier’s bridge.

Capt. Dickson (Ice Cube) is still the same short-tempered, foul-mouthed muthafucka as ever.

Some things somewhat remain the same from the original – the obligatory drug-trip sequences, the crazy car chases, even the cameos from original Jump Streeters – this time around, Richard “Booker” Grieco and Dustin Nguyen.

In this even faster-paced environment of the college campus, the strength of the partnership between Tatum’s Jenko and Hill’s Schmidt is tested when the former becomes a football star, working a convenient alliance with fellow jock Zook while the latter strikes up a friendship during a slam-poetry session – who also happens to be the daughter of Capt. Dickson himself!!!  They seek couples therapy with the school psychologist, who they somewhat suspect for the death of the college student.

Their chase for the suppliers of the mysterious new party drug leads them (natch) to sun-kissed Baja Mexico for spring break (tuggshhhtuggshhh-tuggshhhtuggshhh!!!).  Sure enough, the whole gang conveniently springs up in action during the climactic showdown.

Hill’s timing manages to rub off on his straight man Tatum, whose ease at doing comedy somewhat recalls Brendan Fraser at his peak.  The cameos are quite surprising, from Queen Latifah (uncredited?) as Capt. Dickson’s wife, Diplo as the spring break DJ and Kate Upton (?) in an end-credit Top Gun homage.  Phil Lord and Chris Miller are deft in leaping from the G-rated fun of The LEGO™ Movie to the R-rated hijinks of the Jump Street films while keeping their ear for snark intact.  One highlight would be one of the above-mentioned chase scenes where they pass by a building named the “Benjamin J. Hill School for Cinema Studies” while some oddly-familiar music plays over the under-cranked shots (if Lord and Miller did their research properly, they would have renamed the fictional wing as the “Alfred H. Hill School for Cinema Studies”)

The end credits are something to watch out for, not only poking fun at the ludicrous premises promised by upcoming installments (Ninja School! Flight school! Beauty school!!!) but also on the general insanity of movie merchandising.

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