“Nobody cared about the Jump Street reboot,” intones Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) to officers Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum), but because it somehow worked, Dickson goes on to explain that the department has sunk a ton of moolah into, um, the franchise. Moments later, Jenko notes that Dickson’s new office is snazzy, kind of like a giant cube of ice. One of the things that makes 22 Jump Street, the sequel to 21, so delightful is its knowing wink at the audience that this is a movie destined to haul in big box office, but it’s also going to be a lot of fun getting there.
The movie picks up where we left off, complete with a quick recap of what went on before that would befit an old 1980s nighttime soap. The guys are deployed to college, where the co-eds continue to remark about how darn old these two look. This is especially delightful in the capable hands, and on the acid tongue, of Jillian Bell, who plays Mercedes, a pastel-infused bitch and the roommate of Schmidt’s love interest, Maya (Amber Stevens). Ostensibly, Schmidt and Jenko are looking to break up a drug ring responsible for a potent new product called WhyFy. In the process, as was the case in 21, their partnership is cleaved somewhat, as Jenko finds his spiritual home within the testosterone-laden milieu of locker room and frat house. Schmidt, on the other hand, is the third wheel to Jenko’s new best bud Zook (a scene-stealing Wyatt Russell), a guy whose interest in body building and Lamborghinis matches that of Jenko. There are great moments in which Schmidt exhibits his loneliness and even jealousy, as when he’s increasingly distressed at the Jenko/Zook conversation which he is surveilling. The movie does a great job blending the conventions of the romcom, whether it’s a straight couple or a bromance.
Of course, there are chase scenes and gunfights, with Schmidt determined to someday return the favor Jenko did him when he took a bullet to save him. Even this manages to surprise. Both Hill and Tatum play their parts with such subtle conviction that it’s hard to imagine their characters don’t somehow exist out there. They’re doofuses, in many ways, but together, they manage to save the day, and as the end credits playfully depict, this is a partnership with legs. Credit goes to screenwriters Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel and Rodney Rothman, who brilliantly combine the best conceits of classic comedy with modern wit and brilliant one-liners, all without pandering to the lowest common denominator. 22 Jump Street is not just a worthy successor to the very funny 21 Jump Street, but it’s the kind of movie you won’t mind plunking down money to see again and again this summer.