Chris Miller and Phil Lord have a history of picking projects that shouldn’t work and turning them into winners, and the one that may have been the trickiest is22 Jump Street. Where you can argue that people underrated the possibility that 21 Jump Street or The LEGO Movie could actually be good, with 22 Jump Street not only were they making a comedy sequel (usually a bad idea), but had to deliver something as good as the first one. The shock is they actually made a comedy sequel that is as good (if not better) than the original. Take that, Ghostbusters 2 and Anchorman: The Legend Continues. Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum and Ice Cube return for what was the best mainstream film of this past summer, and my review of the Blu-ray follows after the jump.
Jenko (Tatum) and Schmidt (Hill) may have solved a big case, but at the start of the sequel, they are taking online college classes and try and fail to catch drug kingpin The Ghost (Peter Stormare). Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman) then tells them that – since it worked so well the last time – they’re going to go back to doing what they did the last time, only with a bigger budget due to their success. This means returning to work for Captain Dickson (Cube), and going undercover (this time at a real college), only they’ve been moved across the street to 22 Jump Street, where they now have a Vietnamese Jesus. Using their previous undercover identities, they are to stop the rise of the new drug why-phy, with their only lead that someone giving the drug out has a tattoo on their arm.
Jenko falls in with the frat boys/football team where he becomes close with Zook (Wyatt Russell), and that closeness hurts Schmidt, though he begins dating Maya (Amber Stevens), even though her roommate Mercedes (Jillian Bell) hears everything and can’t stop remarking on how old Schmidt looks. It looks like Zook and company might be behind the drugs, but the more time Jenko spends with his frat bros, the more he not only doubts they’re the bad guys but he also alienates his partner Shmidt.
“Partner” is played for all its worth in the film as it shows Hill’s character as clingy and needy while Tatum’s character comes to realize that being around someone who’s a lot like you can be boring after a while. The duo even go in for couples counselling because of it, though the film never tries to get laughs out of gay panic like the more recent Seth Rogen comedies. More than anything the movie is funny, and though the film makes frequent jokes about the idea that they’re basically telling the same story as the last time, much of the film is spent veering left from the first film. This time it’s Jenko who fits in perfectly, and though in both films it’s Schmidt who gets the girl, the pay-off in regards his relationship with Maya is one of the biggest laugh scenes of the year. Lord and Miller also deserve great props for getting a great performance out of Ice Cube, who gets a classic hissy fit sequence.
Miller and Lord are masters of tone, and the film starts funny, and stays funny throughout. Hill and Tatum proved their chemistry together last time, and though the film builds on a lot of the same jokes – like that Tatum’s character is charmingly lunkheaded- they find new notes to hit. And where Hill was more of the star of the last film, here Tatum really gets to shine as his sequences with Russell and their appreciation of being lambros is a delight. The film concludes by joking about the franchise running itself into the ground, but the chemistry is so good that a 23 Jump Street could actually work. There’s a reason why people thought Lord and Miller were the only ones who could pull off a Ghostbusters 3, it’s because of a film like this; they somehow manage to take terrible ideas and turn them into something great.
Sony presents the film on Blu-ray in widescreen (2.35:1) and in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. The film looks and sounds wonderful. The film comes with a commentary by Hill, Tatum, Miller and Lord, and it was recorded the day after the premiere, which means it’s got some fun stuff in it, but also a lot of “so and so was really great to work with.” There are 22 deleted scenes (40 miin.) with optional commentary by Lord and Miller, with most of which actually entertaining and offer a number of chuckles. There are also six featurettes (51 min.) on the making of the film that is mostly EPK footage that highlights the film’s stars, though the final piece, “Don’t Cut Yet,” shows a single take of Rob Riggle delivering an endless stream of jokes. “Joke-A-Palooza” (6 min.) and “Line-O-Rama” (10 min.) offer even more deleted footage, while “The Dramatic Interpretation of 22 Jump Street” is a ten minute version of the film that offers only one joke (it’s conclusion). “Zook & McQuaid Scout Reel” (2 min.) offers the full version of the video Jenko and Zook make in the film, while “Jenko Split” (1 min.) parodies the Jean-Claude Van Damme split video. The supplements in whole are worth looking at, though the deleted material is the most interesting of the set.