Go Ahead and Jump (22 Jump Street, 2014)

22_Jump_Street_PosterAfter the success of the first film, a second was pretty much inevitable.  And so Jenko and Schmidt are on a new mission that goes hilariously awry.  This leads into the running gag of the film.

Sequels are soulless cash grabs, which admittedly, they often are.  Here, they are told they screwed up the mission and it was just to different.  They are sent to the new Jumpstreet.  22 Jump Street to be exact.  It has a bigger budget, is in a new location and so on.  Same boss, Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) with the same attitude.

They send the boys on a new undercover job at a college to bust a drug ring…you know…like the first movie.

The end result is a movie that manages to live up to it’s successor.  What really works, yet again, is the chemistry of Tatum and Hill’s characters.  As college relationships seem to pull them apart, they start to fail at their mission.  It is only their realization that it is their differences that make them a great team that they can solve the mysteries of the drug ring.

Schmidt meets a girl, Jenko meets a boy and friendships drift apart.  There is a gay subtext to the relationship of Schmidt and Jenko, but surprisingly, it is not of the “Eeee!” kind of attitude so frequent in “bro-comedies”.    There is even a brief scene were Jenko expresses remorse upon realizing how many gay slurs he used to use in high school.

I was skeptical when they announced the first film…by the end of the second one, I was more than willing for another round.

The end credits are must watch.  I was in tears with the running gag of the endless sequels and merchandising.  Though, the fact that there is a 21 Jump Street/Men in Black crossover makes the gag a bit ironic.

Might As Well Jump (21 Jump Street, 2012)

21_Jump_Street_PosterA trend began in the early 2000’s of making movies based on dramatic action shows from the 70’s and 80’s, but treating them as a joke.  This has had…decidedly mixed results.

21 Jump Street was part of the line-up of a upstart new network called Fox.  It was the story of a division of young cops who would go into schools undercover, posing as students, to bust drug dealers and the like.  The show’s biggest claim to fame was that it introduced Johnny Depp to the world.

In the film, we meet loser Schmidt (Jonah Hill) who has a humiliating day at school.  He is rejected by a girl and pushed around by his bully Jenko (Channing Tatum) .  Except, Jenko is having his own trouble…his grades are so bad, he is not going to be allowed to go to prom.  A few years later they are both at the police academy.  At first, Jenko resumes his role as bully, but they quickly realize both can help each other get through.  As Jenko helps Schmidt with the physical tests, Schmidt helps Jenko pass the mental ones.

They are disappointed to discover their first gig is as bike cops in a park.  But an ill fated drug bust leads them to Jump Street, an old program that is being revived.  They are sent into a high school to determine who is selling a new and dangerous drug.

The story is not entirely fresh, and yet, this is kind of the point.  The filmmakers are seeking to have some fun with both cop and action film tropes.  This leads to a lot of entertaining visual gags.  The drug ring is run by hip and socially conscious kids.  When Jenko tries mocking kids for being concerned about the environment, he is informed that this is just so uncool.  In fact, the two friends find their social heirchy inverted.  On top of that, they confuse who is which undercover character, forcing both into roles outside their comfort zone.

21 Jump Street is not an outright parody of it’s namesake.  It is set in the same universe as the show (with original actors reprising roles from the TV Show), but it sees some of the absurdity in the concept.  And it plays with the conventions pretty well (including the very problematic area of the “Inappropriate Love Interest”).

What really holds the film together though is Hill and Tatum.  They are a genuinely enjoyable combo with a friendship that is a bit endearing.  The action scenes are well choreographed.  And, important to any action comedy film?  The action and jokes do not step on each other, so to speak.  21 Jump Street is a pleasant surprise, with it’s combination of humor and enjoyable characters.

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