By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
The funniest part of “22 Jump Street” might be its end credits sequence, a rapid-fire succession of imagined future sequels for this series. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum take their undercover cops through myriad different settings: medical school, culinary school, the seminary, etc. There’s even one proposed sequel (it might have been “29 Jump Street”) in which Hill is replaced by another comedy star due to a salary dispute.
“22 Jump Street” doesn’t maintain this level of goofiness throughout its running time, but it does have enough solid yoks to please fans of the 2012 “21 Jump Street.” Newcomers might be less enchanted.
This one’s obsessed with its own status as a sequel. We get constant reminders of how doing something for the second time is never as good as the first, and how a bigger budget doesn’t necessarily translate to higher quality.
Officers Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) are assigned to bust a drug ring at a university. They enroll as students, a ruse that almost no one believes.
The dedicated bromance between these two best buds is threatened when Jenko meets the school quarterback (Wyatt Russell), his virtual double in athletic ability and low I.Q. Schmidt’s jealousy allows Jonah Hill to perform some very effective sulking.
Schmidt actually scores with a student (Amber Stevens), an initially casual hook-up that leads to a glorious revelation later in the film.
Hill and Tatum re-create their Abbott and Costello-style chemistry, which is based on a constant send-up of the buddy-movie formula. They also leave room for other people to land some good bits: the Lucas brothers, for instance, are weird and funny as the boys’ new dormitory neighbors.
And Jillian Bell is a hoot as an unnervingly focused student with boundary issues. She has a fight scene with Hill, apparently largely improvised, that brings down the house.
The movie’s self-referential enough to include a scene of improv comedy (at a campus open-mike night) closely followed by Jenko pointing out that if the comedians would only think of funny things beforehand and perform them as written, it might work out better.
There are lots of winks to the audience along those lines. It might not be a surprise that directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller managed to make “The Lego Movie” in the period since they did “21 Jump Street,” as that film also nails the meta-humor angle.
Ice Cube returns as the angry boss of the undercover operation, and celebrity cameos keep it lively. This is summertime filler, but at least it’s blissfully silly.
“22 Jump Street” (2 1/2 stars)
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum return as undercover cops—this time, they’re sent to college. The movie’s very self-referential (lots of jokes about how sequels never match the first film), but there are enough silly moments and good supporting turns to please fans of “21 Jump Street.”
Rating: R, for language, violence, subject matter
Showing: Alderwood, Cinebarre, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Stanwood Cinemas, Thornton Place Stadium 14, Varsity, Woodinville, Cascade Mall.