Following their previous success, Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) are back on the streets chasing narcotics. However, after failing in the pursuit of a group of drug dealers, their Deputy Chief puts them back on the program to work for Captain Dickson (Ice Cube). Their assignment is to go undercover as college students and locate the supplier of a drug known as “WHYPHY” that killed a student who was photographed while buying it on campus.
When “21 Jump Street” debuted in 2012, it was almost guaranteed to crash and burn. A film based on a sort-of popular 1987 television show starring the guy from “Superbad” and the guy from “Step Up” didn’t inspire much confidence.
However, thanks to a strong, meta and funny script, hilarious performances from its stars and cameos, and the savviness of Phil Lord and Chris Miller (previously of “Clone High” and “Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs”), the film exceeded expectations and proved to be a very deft comedy.
Now, two years later we have a seemingly inexplicable and superfluous sequel. Luckily, nobody is more aware of this then the film itself. When Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman) brings Schmidt and Jenko back to the Jump Street project, he points out the fact that when they decided to redo the project the first time it was almost certain to fail, and yet despite everything, it exceeded expectations enough to warrant a return. A return that would go exactly the same as last time but with a much higher budget.
In case you can’t tell already, “22 Jump Street” is a film about sequels and how sequels work. Schmidt and Jenko want to go in to do things differently but the universe conspires to make it the same.
The film follows the two going to college where Jenko quickly makes friends with a jock named Zook (Wyatt Russell), who’s a prime suspect of the investigation, while also becoming a star on the football field. Meanwhile, Schmidt gets the attention of an art student, Maya (Amber Stevens), by feigning an interest in slam poetry. In the midst of the case, the two find themselves separating, with Schmidt unable to deal with it well.
“22 Jump Street” succeeds from performances and boasts a script that’s tighter, funnier and more exhilarating than the first film. Hill and Tatum are charismatic and have incredible chemistry while the background players contribute well to the fun atmosphere. The cameos in the film are brilliant and its meta-commentary on the sequel itself are smart and hilarious.
The film is a rare fantastic sequel: one that knows how to capitalize on the first while being just as good if not better — and it is bound to be one of the best films of the summer.
22 Jumpstreet opens today in theaters everywhere.