Jonah Hill as Schmidt/Doug
Channing Tatum as Jenko/Brad
Peter Stormare as The Ghost
Wyatt Russell as Zook
Amber Stevens as Maya
Jillian Bell as Mercedes
Ice Cube as Captain Dickson
The Lucas Brothers as Keith & Kenny Yang
Nick Offerman as Deputy Chief Hardy
Jimmy Tatro as Rooster
Caroline Aaron as Annie Schmidt
Craig Roberts as Spencer
Marc Evan Jackson as Dr. Murphy
Joe Chrest as David Schmidt
Eddie J. Fernandez as Scarface
Rye Rye as Jr. Jr.
Johnny Pemberton as Delroy
Stanley Wong as Roman
Dax Flame as Zack
Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Undercover cops Jenko and Schmidt (Channing Tatum/Jonan Hill) are sent by their captain (Ice Cube) to infiltrate a drug ring based out of a local city university. Yup, they’ve graduated to college with the same mission as last time, this time looking for the distributor of a deadly drug called WhyPhy.
Granted anything that possibly can be done within the police action-comedy genre has probably already been done and “22 Jump Street” is already approaching the material as a sequel that has to justify a reason for being made (besides the obvious one of money). The good thing is that everyone involved with the movie knows what’s at stake when making a sequel to a popular and successful movie and they take every opportunity they can to poke fun at that fact, which immediately relieves the viewer from the ever-present desire to have a sequel that surpasses the original yet one that’s just as good.
Fans of the original remake of the 80s television show should be happy with the opening sequence, which combines the same mix of comedy and action that worked so well with Schmidt and Jenko trying to take down a drug dealer named The Ghost (Peter Stormare). From there, it’s pretty much non-stop jokes as it begins to set up a plot, which is almost deliberately the same as the first movie, only with the Jump Street program moving across the street and getting a much larger budget, similar to the sequel.
Once you get past the fact that the plot is essentially the same, you can enjoy the movie for the way it shows there are plenty of laughs still to be had from this mispaired police partnership, most of them exploiting their differences, Schmidt being the brains to Jenko’s brawn. The reason why they can pull this off–while a movie like “The Hangover Part II” couldn’t–is because the bromantic chemistry between Tatum and Hill still works exceedingly well. The strength of the storytelling comes in the character-developing moments once Jenko meets his kindred spirit Zook during a football skirmish, once again leaving Schmidt as the outsider, just like when they were in high school. Jenko also starts to wonder how his life would be have been different if he hadn’t joined the Police Academy and stayed with football after high school.
This causes more friction in their relationship, but again it’s not exactly something anyone who has seen this type of movie will be too concerned about since we have seen it so many times before. And honestly, when Jenko starts hanging out at the frathouse with his new friend, it’s hard not to think we’ve seen it before, like just last month in “Neighbors” in fact. Just as the jokes start to dwindle to allow the plot to move forward and getting somewhat repetitive, that’s when Ice Cube comes back into the picture with another scene-stealing bit that proves him to be the movie’s most valuable asset.
Either way, it’s fairly clear from this that Lord and Miller are absolute masters of comic timing, pacing and editing, whether or not they’re working in the PG world of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and “The LEGO Movie” or when they’re allowed to push an R rating. This is proven by the way they’re able to fit so many jokes into such a short space of time, and not just the usual off-color humor you might expect from Hill but some really clever sight gags as well, some of which a younger audience won’t get at all. Even when Schmidt and Jenko’s problems force them to go their separate ways in their investigation, essentially driving a wedge into the core of what works about the movie, Miller and Lord find simple but clever ways of keeping them both on screen together.
Hill and Tatum are also surrounded by a number of funny side characters, used just enough to not take the focus away from the main characters for too long, but brought in at points where they can bring new laughs. This includes the far more compatible Yang Twins across the hall, but more importantly, Jillian Bell rips it apart whenever she shows up as the roommate of the co-ed Schmidt is sleeping with. We won’t say more about either of those characters except to say that Bell and Hill are so funny together, you’ll want to see them do a full movie together.
It’s also somewhat refreshing that this is a sequel that doesn’t expect anyone to have seen “21 Jump Street” even if some of the funniest gags–including a hilarious callback for Rob Riggle and Dave Franco–rely solely on returning viewers.
For what it’s worth, “22 Jump Street” overall is a worthy successor to the first movie with exactly the right combination of jokes and action that it’s not likely to disappoint too many people. Those who may still be cynical about sequels may want to stay through the end credits sequence that pokes more fun at money-making sequels, because it’s the funniest part of a very funny movie.