22 Jump Street (2014)

2017 #99
Phil Lord & Christopher Miller | 112 mins | Blu-ray | 2.40:1 | USA / English | 15 / R

22 Jump Street

After the genuinely surprising success (both critically and financially) of the 21 Jump Street movie, a sequel was inevitable. This is that sequel — and it won’t let you forget it.

In the first movie, best-buddy cops Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) went undercover in a high school to unearth a drug ring. Now, they go undercover in a college to unearth a drug ring. Sequels, eh? But it’s okay because the film makes a running joke out of how it’s just rehashing what worked in the first movie. I say “it’s okay” — some people seem to fundamentally object to this, saying that acknowledging that it’s a copy doesn’t stop it being a copy. Personally, I give the film a bit more credit than that. It’s a copy because it’s funny when it’s a copy, not because it has absolutely no new ideas.

In part, it knows when to improve on itself: they’ve taken one of the most memorable and likeable bits of the first movie — the meta-jokes at the expense of the film itself — and ramped them up to 11. And it works. Or, at least, it did for me. Is this the most meta comedy ever? I dunno, but I can’t think of another that so relentlessly riffs off both the expected tropes of its genre and its own status as a sequel. It broadens the remits to movies in general, too — when it finally paid off, the meticulously over-constructed ‘meet cute’ gag elicited one of the biggest laughs I’ve had at a film in a long time. I’m almost loathe to mention it, because it works best when you have no idea that’s where it’s going, but oh well. Similarly, the widely-discussed end credits must’ve been a real hoot when they were a total surprise. Fortunately, they’re still a ton of fun even if you’ve had the joke ruined. (As I’ve already half-spoiled one moment, and the credits were pretty widely covered back when the film first came out, I shall say no more.)

Crash helmet

The one shame in all this is that it rehashes the last movie’s relationship arc for the leads. Gags about it being exactly the same movie are funny when they’re overt, like with the main drug investigation plot, but it’s like no one in production noticed that they’d reheated the character arcs. It does kind of go somewhere new with it, but only in the sense that it’s inverted which of the pair soars and which feels left out. Nonetheless, it stills leads to some funny scenes, like the “break up” and a counselling session, so at least it’s not a complete loss.

When a movie nobody expected anything good of becomes a hit and they rush to produce a sequel, you’d expect nothing more than a lazy rehash. 22 Jump Street takes that ball and runs with it, turning its lazy rehashery into meta-humour that makes the movie more-or-less the equal of its predecessor.

It’s a shame the threequel seems to have become lost down the dead-end of making it a Men in Black crossover because I wouldn’t mind seeing trilogies given the Jump Street treatment. But you never know, maybe that’ll become the silver lining to the Han Solo fiasco.

4 out of 5

Channing Tatum stars in another spoof cop series, Comrade Detective, available on Amazon Prime from today.

Watchmen 2: a couple of suggestions

After finding Total Film’s humourous suggestions for a Watchmen sequel a little lacking in the funniness department, I thought I’d jot down a few myself. It doesn’t mean they’re actually any better, obviously, but it kept me amused for a few minutes.

Betcha can’t spot all the references…

The Watchmen Strike Back
In which the Watchmen form a rebel alliance to fight crime and try to repeal the Keene Act! Sounds depressingly plausible…

The Watchmen: Part II
Split between shocking events of the present day (which, for the viewer, is still the past) and flashbacks to the beginnings in an even-more-past New York. Oh, wait, that’s the first film…

Watchmen: The Superhero Who Shagged Me
The first one deconstructed the genre, the second spoofs it! Hey, it can’t be any worse than Superhero Movie… probably…

Watchmen Supremacy
Modern-day version that induces motion sickness.

2 Watch 2 Men
In which the least memorable lead from the first film goes on some redeeming mission for no reason other than more ‘cool’ action sequences. Stars Silk Spectre, but no one else.

Watchmen 2: Judgement Day
In which the bad guy turns out to be a good guy and an implausible nuclear explosion destroys a major US city. Oh, wait…

“Get away from her you bitch!”, screams Nite Owl as Ozymandias tries to steal his woman.

Watchmen to the Future Part II
Dr Manhattan takes everyone to the future, and then back into the events of the first film, and into the past, and things get mucked up, and the present starts getting erased, and then the future’s different too, and it barely makes sense but it’s still pretty good. And then it ends with them in the Wild West.

Watchmen Reloaded
In which things get even more convoluted and pretentious. Most likely option, then. No need to do the rubbish sex scene set to inappropriate music in the sequel this time though.

Watchmen: The Two Towers
I think leaving it at that is insensitive enough.

W2 (or, in the US ad campaign only, W2: Watchmen United)
Bigger, better, and even more focussed on The One Everyone Liked (i.e. Rorschach). Refuses to resolve his plot line, but then doesn’t do it in a third film (directed by Uwe Boll as Snyder goes on to relaunch V For Vendetta) because Watchmen Origins: Rorschach is scheduled for a couple of years later.

The Dark Nite Owl
Just had to get that one in there.