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"22 Jump Street" Is a Great Sequel About Lousy Sequels

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire June 3, 2014 at 10:03AM

Did we need a sequel to "21 Jump Street"? Not really. But the first critics to see it are happy to have it anyway.
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Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in "22 Jump Street"
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in "22 Jump Street"

Having turned "The LEGO Movie" into a referendum on the idiocy of basing a film franchise on plastic building blocks, Phil Lord and Chris Miller use "22 Jump Street" to poke fun at superfluous sequels, all the while making one that. In the process, according to the first reactions, they make a "21 Jump Street" sequel that builds on and amplifies the original's appeal.

"22 Jump Street" opens June 13.

Reviews of "22 Jump Street"

John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

True to its promise, this one practically Xeroxes the first film's plot, having bumbling cops Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum pose as students to bust a campus drug ring whose dangerous new pharmaceutical just claimed its first life. This time, Tatum's Jenko is the one who bonds to the cool kids he's supposed to be investigating, abandoning his unhip partner Schmidt -- the betrayal is even captured on surveillance equipment, as it was last time. Fortunately, "22" is just like "21" in at least one more way: It's laugh-packed, self-aware in a manner that lets everyone in on the joke, and goofily satisfying in the action department.

Mark Adams, Screen International

The fact that stars (and producers) Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum share such an easy chemistry and are happy to poke fun at their established on-screen personas is what gives the film its innate charm. Add to that the visual mastery of directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (on a real box office roll after "The LEGO Movie") who really have some fun here and you have a film that revels in its formula while also have laughs at the very notion of a sequel.

Oliver Lyttleton, Playlist

The film is bigger in most ways, and the action and filmmaking seems more consciously indebted to Michael Bay -- and "Bad Boys" in particular -- right down to the homoerotic relationship between the two leads. Because while it's looser and funnier than the first film, there's still something of an emotional spine in the relationship between Schmidt and Jenko, with even more parallels drawn with a romantic coupling this time around (the pair even end up going to a couples counselor, played by the always welcome Marc Evan Jackson). 

Scott Foundas, Variety

The college scenes are, like a lot of what Lord and Miller do, hit-and-miss, with a loosely stitched-together improv-comedy feel (in keeping with its self-reflexive spirit, the film even includes an onscreen conversation about the relative merits of scripted and unscripted comedy). But "22 Jump Street" hits far more often than it misses, and even when it misses by a mile, the effort is so delightfully zany that it’s hard not to give Lord and Miller an "A" for effort.

Simon Brew, Den of Geek!

There's actually quite a lot packed in here, pushing the film close to a two hour running time. Yet so relentless is the entertainment, and so densely packed are the laughs (you're never more than five minutes away from the next one), that the running time is easy to overlook.

David Ehrlich, Letterboxd

So self-reflexive it barely needs an audience, but repeatedly rehashes the past in a truly progressive way. Bloated in the middle and filled with limp jokes but it kills when it counts.

Inkoo Kang, Wrap

Meta-commentary about how terrible sequels always are, and about how Schmidt and Jenko's partnership resembles a gay relationship, pad the running time with bloat, as does a seemingly obligatory half-hour epilogue that squeezes in a few more car chases. But I hardly minded, because the fact of the matter is that I laughed aloud for two hours straight, and "22 Jump Street" has cemented the Lord and Miller Experience, which is to chortle and guffaw while being distinctly impressed by their ingenuity and wit, both visual and verbal.

Chris Tilly, IGN

"21 Jump Street" was one of the surprise hits of 2012; a genuinely funny flick that brilliantly subverted its source material to produce something that was both clever and original. They've taken an "If it ain't broke, don’t fix it" approach to the sequel however, telling pretty much the same story and infusing it with many of the same jokes. The result is a film that’s still consistently funny throughout, but nevertheless feels a little lazy and tired.

Gabe Toro, Cinema Blend

"22 Jump Street" is bigger and it freely admits it, repetitive and boastful of the fact, and ultimately completely unnecessary. Lord and Miller have fun with that last insight, but it definitely feels like the act of two gentle mischief makers let loose on a Hollywood soundstage: any sort of incisive commentary gets buried by the necessity of formula. 


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