Great actors have convincingly played the fool in the past, Tom Hanks even won an Oscar for Forest Gump. But all of them should now bow down to Channing Tatum. In reprising his role as Jenko, Tatum is deserving of considerable praise for portraying one of the most convincing idiot man-children in the history of cinema.
For the uninitiated, 22 Jump Street is the sequel to 21 Jump Street – a film based on the late 80’s TV show starring Johnny Depp. The first film ended up being funnier than it deserved to be (considering its source material) and shocked a lot of people who had originally dismissed it. Like a prized boxer, the film hit you with a 1, 2 combo followed by a powerful upper cut that put you on your arse.
This time around our main characters Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are back and have moved on from their old assignment as High School students, to being College Students. Imagine, if you can, all of the stereotypical jokes and situations that two 30 year old cops pretending to be College students could inspire. Most are likely to be present in this film. Now you would think these jokes would come across as stale, but here’s the thing, they don’t. What 22 Jump Street does, what many other comedies fail at, is making obvious and worn out jokes seem fresh.
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have created a film that is self-aware and happy to poke fun at its content and stars. I normally hate films when they try to be “meta” like Harold and Kumar or the Scary Movie franchise but 22 Jump Street is different. The film skirts that very thin line where these old jokes are actually entertaining and adds to the comedy in a tongue-in-cheek way. It doesn’t acknowledge the audience during these self-aware moments and while they are plentiful, are not annoying.
Tatum and Hill push this film forward with genuinely funny laugh out loud moments. The guys are supported once again by Ice Cube, who is a standout in many scenes. The cameos by Nick Offerman and Queen Latifah are always enjoyable. And there is even a scene that throws back to the original film with Dave Franco and Rob Riggles now in jail, which is suitably hilarious on many levels.
It seems all too common that a comedy has its best bits shown during the trailers leading up to release; A Million Ways To Die in the West and Neighbours being prime examples this year. It sucks as the viewer is given the impression the film is full of laughs, but the effect of the jokes are muted the more the potential viewer is exposed to them prior to viewing. The addition of Redband trailers online also goes a long way to ruin excellent jokes often hidden within a film. The trailer for 22 Jump Street, while hilarious doesn’t ruin the movie’s best gags. I’m buggered if I can figure out how, as the trailer hooked me after 1 viewing. I guess it really comes down to the movie’s pacing.
I knew this film was going to do well at the box office, and as it turns out it’s currently sitting pretty at #1 in the US. We managed to get into an advance screening in a large cinema filled with people of a variety of ethnicities and ages. Despite the varied audience, the cinema was quickly filled of laughter from all the audience… from slight chuckles to outright belly laughs. The pacing of the jokes were on point in a big way, and full credit to the screenwriter and cast for hitting each perfectly.
It’s currently June and at the midway point of the year, 22 Jump Street has set the bar for all other comedies to reach … and looking at what is due to come out for the remainder of 2014, I just can’t see anything beating it.
There are so many funny moments in this film. Where Anchorman 2 failed in terms of living up to the hype and expectations set by its original, 22 Jump St delivers in spades. Hey Rob Burgundy, instead of staying classy, say something cool like Channing Tatum.
– Ben Abbott