Sequels are ruining Hollywood. One person makes a new, creative, and innovative movie. Then it becomes a success. Then they make as many as they can. You have Pirates of the Caribbean, which saw its first installment, The Curse of the Black Pearl, become a huge success and was critically well-recieved. They made that into a trilogy of mediocre films. They even made a fourth one with only Johnny Depp!! Or we can go the other way with a film like The Lone Ranger. If that was a hit, then we would have seen a few more. Instead, I’m told it was atrocious, so they stopped. It’s a terrible and an inevitable cycle, a cycle that 21 Jump Street could not avoid. Good thing they new what they were doing and created the most self-referential film in years.
22 Jump Street exceeds the first film, as it plays off of the same jokes so obviously that you can only laugh at it. I feel like this is something The Hangover tried to do when they made The Hangover: Part 2. They tried to make a lot of the same jokes, but pretended it was a new movie. 22 Jump Street acknowledged all the ways Hollywood pushes sequels and told you up front and they made a new movie. This wasn’t an accident, folks, this is comedy.
Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill have a chemistry on screen that is pure magic. They were meant to be funny together. From playful bonding moments, to action sequences, to couples counseling, Hill and Tatum never miss a beat. They are like the better version of Twins, with Tatum as Schwarzenegger and Hill as DeVito. Obviously a slightly different dynamic, but I can’t help but draw the similarities. Tatum is the good-looking, muscle bound dude and Hill is the chubby, romantic type. Tonight, tonight is your night, bro!
The cultural awareness of the writing was such a pleasant surprise. They broke the third wall, in ways, by acknowledging the world we live in and figuring we’d understand what they were talking about. Also, understanding that these are actors. Ron Swanson, I mean Nick Offerman, reprised his role as Deputy Chief Hardy and gave us amazing point blank references to the first film. But my favorite had to be the reference to Tatum’s work in White House Down. “I thought it was a good idea,” says Tatum. Brilliant.
And I’m glad they gave Ice Cube a bigger role in this film. He was hilarious in the first, but wasn’t used enough. For this, they expanded his role, gave him a daughter, and all hell broke loose. Smart move. Bringing back Rob Riggle and Dave Franco was also a smart move. They provided exactly the kind of comedic punch you’d expect from their characters.
And how about the end sequence of unrelenting Jump Street sequels? Dear God, if only. Jump Street Generations? A call back to Star Trek Generations. There was also the one iteration of Jump Street without Jonah Hill because of a “contract dispute.” So Seth Rogan was plugged in and no one was supposed to notice, because that actually happens. It was the perfect way to end a sequel that knew it was a sequel while making fun of sequels. Splendid.
I’m not sure if they are going to make another sequel, which they obviously brought up in the film and would clearly be titled 23 Jump Street – which is already being built conveniently across the street from 22 Jump Street and next to 21 Jump Street. Because of course it is – but, if they decided to make another one, I am sure it will be just as good as the first two. They clearly know what they are doing and know exactly what not to do (thanks, second two Hangover films!).