School holidays are on around the country, so some very school holiday features have hit the cinemas. Some of them are better than others; this one thankfully is.
They've moved across the street, away from the Korean church and now to a Vietnamese church where the statue of a Vietnamese Sacred Heart is prominent. But that is the most religious thing about this film, a sequel to 21 Jump Street which was, in turn, a movie version of the very popular television series of the same name which starred Johnny Depp.
The sequel is as good as, perhaps better, than 21 Jump Street. It is consistently amusing, sophomoric humour as someone remarked, but clever sophomoric humour.
There is also a case for the often inept partnership between Schmidt and Jenco, undercover as brothers, almost parallel to their infiltrating a high school in search of drug dealers in the first film, but this time they have the advantage of being sent to College – and quite a few humorous sequences as they try out various courses in which they are not successful.
This is done on purpose – and there is an urgent recommendation that audiences stay through the final credit sequences where sequel on sequel on sequel on sequel is suggested, the various institutes of learning where the duo could infiltrate and perfect their police work!
The film opens with one of those continuity sections as they do on television, the plot so far... And then the move to 22 Jump Street, with a glance across the street and a big sign with 23!
As they go into the new quarters, they remark that their chief's glass office looks like a cube of ice. And there is Ice Cube, grim as ever, calling them to account and sending them to College and later has an overwrought tantrum while having dinner with them. There is a new drug on the loose, Whyphy, and they have to track down the source of the drug because a young woman has died from an overdose.
Off they go to hold up a group of dealers, with Peter Stormare yet again a villain, only to find that the dealing is not with drugs but with special species, including an octopus that jumps onto the face of Schmidt, Jonah Hill.
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum obviously enjoyed working together in the first film, and they have perfected their act, their combination, collaboration and timing. We have seen Jonah Hill do this kind of thing before, jokes about his size, his physical inabilities, his serious-mindedness, especially in his course at college as well as tracking down criminals.
Channing Tatum, Jenko, plays straightman to Hill but it soon emerges that Tatum has a sense of humour, does deadpan very well, as well as many physical stunts. He's recruited for the college football team and is a great success, making friends with the star player and his rather rough associate, easy suspects for the drug dealing.
They have tracked down a student who lived opposite the dead woman and Schmidt forms a sexual relationship with her – and there is an unexpected and funny twist when he meets the girl's father. She has allowed the dead woman's roommate to move in, a deadpan and rather annoying and blunt-spoken young woman. We are glad when she moves out of the picture, but she does return.
There are football matches, a lot of attention given to a crowded Spring Break in Mexico, and various college shenanigans that young audiences will be familiar with and enjoy from many student vacation films.
However, the case is solved. Schmidt has an elaborate fist fight that he ways is the most uncomfortable he has ever had; there are car chases, highly effective stunt work, twists in the plot – and, all the time, continuous humour, some of it crude, some of its sophomoric, some of it both. Having made allowances for this, 22 Jump Street keeps a smile on the face of the audience, indulges expectations for action, and should prove a holiday hit.
- Reviewed by Fr Peter Malone MSC, an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
22 Jump Street, starring Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Peter Stormare, Wyatt Russell, Amber Stevens, Jillian Bell, the Lucas Brothers, Caroline Aaron. Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Rated MA (Strong coarse language and sexual references). 116 minutes. Out now.