by Jeff Niesel
With the exception of Neighbors, the funny Seth Rogen/Rose Byrne movie about a young couple that feuds with the frat boys who move in next door, the summer hasn’t had much to offer in terms of comedy. As a result, 22 Jump Street provides some needed comic relief, even though it’s not particularly sophisticated stuff.
A comedy based on the 1987 television series by the same name, 2012’s 21 Jump Street paired Jonah Hill with Channing Tatum, who respectively played Schmidt and Jenko, a couple of clueless cops sent to bust a drug ring at a high school. In typical opposites attract fashion, the two bonded and actually got the job done. They’re reunited here in 22 Jump Street and the plot includes only a slight alteration. In fact, at numerous times in the film, Schmidt and Jenko allude to the fact that the storyline here is essentially the same storyline from the previous film.
This time around, Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman) sends the duo over to Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) who in turn sends them off to college to investigate the source of a new drug called “WHYPHY.” This creates a challenge for the mentally challenged Jenko, who discovers, after talking to students, that “wifi” is available everywhere on campus. In the course of trying to blend in, the two cops head in different directions. Jenko bonds with the jocks and walks onto the football team where he becomes the star wide receiver. Schmidt doesn’t fare badly either and hooks up with Maya (Amber Stevens), an attractive art student. Maya’s roommate Mercedes (Jillian Bell) is disgusted and makes a series of funny jokes about how old Schmidt looks. The film plays up the differences between the two cops. Schmidt has trouble climbing stairs while Jenko hops to the top of staircases like he has bionic strength.
The storyline hits a snag midstream as Schmidt and Jenko go through a breakup of sorts. They even end up in a therapist’s office where they pretend to be a gay couple. In fact, the gay jokes go hand-in-hand with the dick jokes here. It would all come off as homophobic and insensitive if it weren’t for a scene in which Jenko, inspired by a sex ed class he was taking, advocates against using homophobic slurs. After an awkward transition, the film’s second half puts the emphasis on action and includes wild car chases and shootouts. It’s all done tongue-in-cheek, making the movie come off more like 48 Hrs. than a James Bond flick.