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22 Jump Street (2014)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 11/18/2014
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/13/2014
Is anyone have a weirder year than Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller? In February, they scored a monster hit withThe Lego Movie, a CG-animated family film which made over $250 million and laid the groundwork for many Lego films to come. Then, in June, they were back with 22 Jump Street, the decidedly grown up sequel to their 2012 hit 21 Jump Street. Other than a decidedly sardonic sense of humor, I don't think that you could find two movies which were more different. The question is, with 22 Jump Street, can Lord & Miller continue their trend of quality movies?
21 Jump Street introduced us to Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum), rookie police offers who were assigned to go undercover in a high school to target drug dealers. (Ironically, as they had actually been adversaries in high school.) When that sting was completed, their commanding officer, Captain Dickson (Ice Cube), had stated that they would be going to college. As this turns out, this meant monitoring on-line lectures looking for clues to upcoming crimes. When a local college student overdoses on a new drug called "Whyphy", Schmidt and Jenko are find themselves undercover on campus trying to find the source of the drug. Jenko immediately falls in with the football team and finds a kindred spirit in fellow player Zook (Wyatt Russell), while Schmidt begins to spend time with the artsy crowd and one girl, Maya (Amber Stevens), in particular. Both finds themselves getting caught up in college activities, which allows both their friendship and the investigation to fall by the wayside. Will they be able to patch things up and catch the criminals?
Like many, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed 21 Jump Street. Yet another TV retread featuring two actors I don't particularly care for? No thanks. But, the movie was very funny and clever and it allowed Hill and Tatum to use their strengths, as opposed to asking them to overreach. Given the success of the film, a sequel wasn't surprising, but the question was, which direction would they take. Would it fulfill the promise of sending the pair to college? Would it try something completely different? And, most importantly, would it be able to capture lightning in a bottle again?
The answer to most of those questions is "Sort of". The most interesting thing about 22 Jump Street is that it takes a decidedly meta approach. From the outset, there are thinly veiled references to sequels, as the characters talk about doing things over again, having more money to do so, and hoping for better results. These jokes are somewhat clever, but a bit cliched, save for the joke about Dickson's shoes. From there, the movie is nearly a carbon copy of the first film, as the two go to school, fall in love with being in school, and then get distracted from the case.
Having the exact same thing happen again is clearly part of the joke, as it apes the lack of creativity with sequels. But, once this joke passes, we realize that we are watching the same movie again. There are a few good jokes in the first two acts (most notably the walk of shame), but they can't override the notion that the story sorely lacks in originality. Things do pick up in the third act when the story and location changes, however the movie is never able to achieve the level of laughs seen in the first film.
So, what went wrong? 22 Jump Street falls into the trap of attempting to do something a little different while at the same time appeasing the audience which made the initial film a success. The problem is that it leans a little to far to the latter and doesn't do enough new things. The parallels between the two films are nearly ridiculous, right down to the drug trip. The biggest issue is the lack of clever jokes in the film. The first movie was able to balance obvious, gross-out jokes with much more subtle, clever jokes which clearly weren't aimed at the general audience. 22 Jump Street isn't completely devoid of this sort of humor, but there certainly isn't enough of it.
Is 22 Jump Street a complete failure? No. The movie does provide some laughs, and there are some nice moments where Schmidt and Jenko attempt to adjust to modern life on a college campus. As noted above, things really pick up in the third act, where the movie brings in more action movie cliches. Hill and Tatum seem as game as ever, and, as with the first film, they really play to their strengths. (I have no problem buying Tatum in this role.) Even though the movie basically tells us that it won't be as good as the first one, I was still taken aback at how the series takes a step back. Still, it's better than many modern comedies and it's almost worth watching for the closing credits alone.
22 Jump Street makes it difficult to focus once you realize that's Kurt Russell's son on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing on notable grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, most notably the brighter tones, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The picture is somewhat soft in some places, and the level of detail pales in comparison to what one would have found on a Blu-ray Disc. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects show good separation. The surround sound effects really add to the experience during the party and football game scenes. The music in the film gives the subwoofer a good workout.
The 22 Jump Street DVD contains a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Directors Phil Lord & Chris Miller and Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. The DVD contains five DELETED & EXTENDED SCENES which run about 15 minutes and can be viewed with commentary from the directors. There's only one completely new scene here, while the others feature additional footage to existing scenes. "The Perfect Couple of Directors" (10 minutes) is a profile of Lord and Miller and includes multiple interviews with the pair. "Line-O-Rama" (4 minutes) features actress Jillian Bell doing different lines about Schmidt's age.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long