Directed by: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
Written by: Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel, Rodney Rothman
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Peter Stormare, Ice Cube
As commonplace in America, the next step after high school becomes attending college just like the next undercover assignment for our favorite cop duo. By taking the elements that worked in the first film and applying it to another phase of education, 22 Jump Street maintains its freshness through its spectacular comedy.
After the success of their undercover high school operations, Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) get the opportunity to work in narcotics and unsurprisingly screw up an important case. They, once again, must work under Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) and he has another undercover case for them, which would take them college to crack down on another new drug, WHY-PHY.
While being a retread of 21 Jump Street with its basic plot structure, this film brilliantly applies it to a completely different part of scholastic life. College and high school have their major differences from the rigors of the academics and the social norms. It provides the opportunity to live amongst peers and an academic responsibility that lies solely on the student. Adding Schmidt and Jenko into the experience only adds to the comedy. The biggest difference being, the duo fits in much more in the college setting. Universities have plenty of students that begin their journey in higher education at different ages, so it loses the obvious wink to the audience of not fitting in. However, this film finds no issues finding hilarious comedic moment for its characters.
It continues the budding friendship and partnership of Jenko and Schmidt as they try their best to be cops but can never get it just right. Their success comes from the writing but also the tremendous work by Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. They each make these characters their own and have a blast going for round two. They have a moment when a certain bombshell reveal occurs that left me in tears through laughter. With the two films in this duology, Tatum firmly establishes himself as a comedy talent, who could be an asset to any ensemble. Another budding friendship and partnership of the film are the directing duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller as they continue to display their excellence in the live-action and animated realms. With this film, they solidify themselves as a comedic force that can make even the silliest plots work because they can find the humor and maximize its potential.
The drug of choice they chase in the film aptly uses the name “WHY-PHY” (phonetically much like Wi-Fi) for a generation that could not live without it. The name seems ridiculous but sets up one of the funniest jokes of the film when they search for the substance. As customary, the two undercover cops experience the typical college experience as displayed in popular media. They mess around with fraternities, barely attend class, and go to Spring Break, which provides the climax of the story. Jenko and Schmidt have plenty of fun and at times a bit too much self-indulgence during their undercover experience.
Many of the same plot points, but executed in a fresh and observantly comedic manner. 22 Jump Street still has plenty to offer and goes all-in with how self-aware the plot of the story unfolds. It all culminates in one of the greatest end credit sequences ever as the filmmakers make a joke about its entire story and future at the expense of contemporary Hollywood productions.