HOLLYWOOD IS LITTERED with the decaying carcasses of failed sequels. But 22 Jump Street—the follow-up to the implausibly funny 21 Jump Street starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum—not only overcomes "the curse of the sequel," it laughs in the curse's face, shoves it down the stairs, and laughs some more. Then it feels bad about hurting the curse, and calls an ambulance to take the curse to the hospital. But don't worry! The curse is going to be okay! And trust me, the curse will go on to curse many more sequels. But oh boy—this time around? The curse couldn't lay a hand on the hilarious 22 Jump Street.
In their first outing, Hill and Tatum took a fairly ridiculous late '80s undercover cop show and turned it into a sly, slapstick take on the turmoil of high school. But even better, they added a sweet emotional center to their cavalcade of dick jokes, which made 21 Jump Street more enjoyable than most of us ever expected. So how does one capture that same spirit in the sequel? They say it themselves in a lengthy, self-referential scene that hilariously spoofs the inherent terribleness of sequels: Do not change a single thing!
Hill and Tatum return as bumbling—but insanely earnest—undercover cops Schmidt and Jenko, who are now way too old to pass as high school kids, so they're sent to pose as (still too old!) college students in order to track down a deadly drug dealer. However, while the beefy, mentally dull Jenko (Tatum) flailed in a high school environment, here he's the "king of all dudes," and quickly becomes indoctrinated into frat life as well as the football team... leaving the uncoordinated, socially inept Schmidt (Hill) far behind.
22 takes merciless satirical jabs at college life in the form of terrible dorm room décor, callous professors, keg stands, early morning walks of shame, and the bitchiest of bitchy roommates. (Note: The supporting cast is uniformly terrific, and if Jillian Bell isn't Oscar nominated for her role as the meanest, funniest roommate in the history of higher education, I'll burn down Hollywood.) But all dick and vomit jokes aside, at its core 22 Jump Street is a sweet, homoerotic love story about two bros who drift apart and find their way back to each other... in a truly humiliating and filthy fashion.
The writing is shockingly sharp for a flick this low-brow, and the chemistry Hill and Chatum exhibit ranks them as the finest comedy duo currently working in film. In fact, it's hard to find any real downside to this movie (unless you despise dick jokes, I suppose) because, even when you suspect the momentum is dying in the final reel, they do something so totally unexpected and hilarious that it pulls you right back in. Since this is a parody of a sequel, naturally there's a good many jokes about the possibility of a 23 Jump Street—but I'm not joking when I say, if they do it? I'M ALL IN.