Monday, July 21, 2014

22 Jump Street (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

22 Jump Street

This sequel to "21 Jump Street" directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie) features many gags in the key of the first outing with Schmidt (Jonah Hill) acting the awkward but resourceful non-athletic guy. Jenko (Channing Tatum) is Schmidt's opposite: the good looking but clueless Lunk.

During the first twenty minutes, it is very easy to give a hee ha ho hum as Schmidt and Jenko fall off a truck and are attacked by a giant octopus and then they grimly impersonate gang members.

The first chapter covered much of these same ground with these two in their first routine, trying to act cool in their geeky "adult student" ruse.

The couple is again set up with the all too serious Dickson (Ice Cube) with a mission to track down a drug dealer, this time at a university.

Right away, most of the students know what's up, but decide to humor these pasty patsies.

A pair of comical twins (Kenny and Keith Lucas) are very funny, who speak and do everything in anticipation of one another.

Jenko and Schmidt giggle, mug and wring hands. Jenko falls in with a dense but well-meaning block of blond named Zook (Wyatt Russell), a football star. Schmidt finds a girlfriend in the sparkling art major, Maya (Amber Stevens).

As things progress, Jenko gets to like the high praise he receives with football and hints to Schmidt that he wants to stop working closely, if at all. Schmidt feels rebuffed and hurt as if the two were lovers. This is the main joke and drive of the film through all of the neon Spring Break silliness and it works very well, because Hill and Tatum play it so straight.

Jonah Hill has an odd, soft and corny nervousness that makes his Persona and he yet again uses it to Apatow affect. It is actually conceivable that Schmidt  misses his nonchalant but square partner.

Yet it is comedienne Jillian Bell who steals the show as Mercedes, a snarky and acidic roommate, fond of firearms and brutality while being girly. An absurdist "kissing fight" between Bell and Hill had me laughing the most.

No surprise since her character has the best lines.

The film boasts a dozen cameos from Queen Latifah, Patton Oswalt, Rob Riggle and Bill Hader (SNL), but most of them are stiff. There is a funny bit during the end credits with Seth Rogen being taken for Jonah Hill and I wish there were more of these.

While fans of the first film might see what's coming before the next bullet hits, it is the awkward partnership / boyfriend subplot that saves this sequel from being a canned laugh.

Granted much of "22 Jump Street" feels prefab, especially at the beginning with noise, neon, bullets and bling all going splat, but Schmidt, in yearning for his Bro Jenko, create an offhand chemistry that is almost a statement on self conscious feelings and homophobia.

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