Sequels are some of the toughest films out there to do well. There’s a line between retaining the elements of the first film that drew audiences in, and feeling like a rehash of the original material. 22 Jump Street tackles this by what felt like brute force double entendres. There are so many meta double entendres in this film, it feels like it’s a film about itself.
It’s too bad, because Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are funny, incredibly talented writers. The best moments in this film happen when there’s no meta-speak, and we’re free to watch and emote with the characters on the same level as any other movie. Not that the movie was a disappointment. One of the funniest scenes this year comes in the second act, and on the whole the movie is fresh, fun and inventive.
Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill’s chemistry together is palpable, and excellent. The duo could be locked up in a padded cell and still be fun to watch, and it’s that bond that really carries the film. Ice Cube’s role in the sequel extends beyond the original as well, giving him room to really shine as the duo’s zero-nonsense captain.
A little less self-awareness would be nice, but this film succeeds in revisiting the material from the first film and making it feel new again. If a funnier flick has come out this year, it’s The Lego Movie, which also had Lord & Miller at the helm. The duo are poised to be the kings of the Hollyworld, and if that means more movies like 22 Jump Street, that’s a good thing.