"The script itself tells you exactly what to expect from this film: '21 Jump Street on a bigger budget.' Revisit Jump Street's laugh-out-loud brand of humour in a new venue with more explosions, more bromance, and more babes."
Studio: Media Rights Capital, Original Film, Lord Miller Productions
Worth watching in theatres?
Fans of the first Jump Street (or, perhaps, twenty-first Jump Street?) are sure to enjoy this self-referential sequel set in a college scenario, but if you're new to the franchise, this is definitely the type of sequel you need to see the first film to enjoy. "21 Jump Street" has been out for awhile, so give it a watch and get a sense of if the humour sits with you or not - it's not a brand of humour for everyone (probably not a movie you'd want to bring grandma to).
Worth watching again?
Much like the first movie, it's not a movie you can watch again right after and get something new out of. The focus is on the humour, and for that reason once you've heard the jokes once, you'll need a break from them to appreciate them again. You'll probably be ready to see it again when it comes out on DVD, so hold onto your movie-going money for another new release.
Expectations vs. Reality?
What I expected was simple: "more 21 Jump Street." The first movie had me laughing out loud for the whole run time, and I expected no less from the sequel. While "22 Jump Street" had a few stalls and low points, the funniest scenes were definitely up to par with the prequel. Where it didn't live up to its predecessor was in the pacing - while "21" felt more organic to follow, "22" had points where I felt confused and frustrated as to where the plot was going.
To make up for it, though, "22" had a strong self-referential brand of humour that the first couldn't which still leaves me scratching my head over whether it was absolutely ingeniously-written or just lazily-written. As a fan of this kind of comedy done well (of which are so few and far between), I'd like to think the former is true.
Pros and Cons?
- More of the Jump Street Humour. If I could say one thing about this movie, it would be "If you liked the first one, go see this one!" Without feeling like a carbon copy, this movie manages to deliver more of the comedy I liked about the first one in a fresh-feeling setting. The change in setting effortlessly created new opportunities for the same brand of humour without feeling exhausted or unoriginal.
- College Parody. From beanbag chairs to poetry slams, from awkward roommates to frat parties - this movie successfully parodies college in ways that had me laughing and nodding my head, "So true, so true!" Like any "college movie" with obscene amounts of drinking and student bodies with a peculiarly high number of hot, blonde white girls - it's obviously not meant to be taken seriously, but for that over-the-top reason is more enjoyable.
- Self-Referential. If a comedy takes itself to seriously, it feels stuck-up; if it doesn't take itself seriously enough, the audience loses investment in it. "22 Jump Street" manages to place itself snugly in the middle of these extremes and for that reason is afforded the ability to constantly make jokes about itself and its prequel.Self-referencing is attempted often but rarely done in a satisfying way - usually feeling like a cheap cash-in for easy laughs or just forced. Without spoiling any of the jokes, "22" is an exception to this and really manages to deliver quality good laughs to fans of the first movie.
- Quirky Characters. Without feeling like a re-skinned version of "21" set in college, "22" brings back old favourites (as well as a few funny scenes with characters from he first movie) while introducing a new cast of characters that fit the "Jump Street" calling without feeling stale. The comedic chemistry between new and old characters is believable without compromising the quality of bonds set out in the first movie (unless called for by the plot).
- Unpredictably Predictable. Going hand-in-hand with this movies self-referencing, "22" plays with your expectations of "just how much like '21' is this going to be?" The movie opens almost identically to the first and the characters constantly remind you how "this is just 21 Jump Street... but on a bigger budget" (literally what Captain Dickson says). Lines of dialogue are taken verbatim from the first movie, and yet the conclusions pleasantly unexpected. I was certainly left guessing "who dun'it" until the moment of the big reveal.
- Fun Soundtrack. This is either going to be a pro or a con depending on the person, but I personally love when movies can successfully integrate non-instrumental music. "22" does a great job of amping up its "college (fantasy)" vibe with tons of party music that just fits the mood. Even as I write this review now I'm jammin' to the music from this soundtrack - it's just fun, high-energy, and get me pumped!
- Credit Sequence. A lot of movies try to do unique things with their credit sequence, and most of the time it just feels tacked-on or forgettable. Without spoiling the surprise, following in line with the rest of "22 Jump Street's" self-referential humour, the beginning of this credit sequence is worth sticking around for.
- Pacing. It's hard to put into words what "21"
did better in terms of pacing, but "22" just felt slightly more stalled
at some points in terms of overall flow. I found myself getting
impatient at times (perhaps due to the timing of some of the plot
twists), and while I recognize a comedy's focus is not on flawless
pacing, having a better flow wouldn't hurt the delivery of the humour.
- Too Much Bromantic Drama. In a buddy-cop movie, bromance is a given. However, "21" pulled off bromantic drama far more successfully than "22." While the prequel focuses more on the lead characters' jealousy and competition, "22" pushes their relationship uncomfortably close to "actual romance." I guess for some this could be a pro, seeing as it sets up for a lot of funny scenes early on, but some of the later gags felt too obvious. "21" was clever to cast the leads in clique-based roles ("jock" and "nerd") to drive the drama forward, while "22" relies on on exhausted gender-based roles to illustrate the same sort of drama. This gag consistently relies on making one "hyper-feminine" and the other "hyper masculine," which at first is funny for how ridiculous it is but gets old when the viewer is supposed to care most. It's not unfunny, it just could have been used less for a better effect.
- Rushed Introduction. Maybe I missed the niche appeal of the
introductory sequence reminding viewers of what happened in "21," but
boy was that uncomfortably rushed for my tastes! Maybe some will enjoy
the machine gun-paced recap, but I found it to be an unsettling attempt
at re-immersing the audience.
- Spring Break isn't that Fun. Towards the last act, the parody of college life peaks at an unbelievable extreme. I think the reason this point in the movie no longer feels like parody is because it's such a common scene in the media's depiction of college life - the huge party with the disproportionately high number of ridiculously hot girls, an entertainment budget no college/fraternity/sorority/organization could ever afford, and an endless supply of booze. Maybe it's just because when I finally got to college, I was hugely disappointed at how far off "real college life" was from the media portrayal it... or maybe I just went to a dude college, who knows? I'm just getting burnt out on this trope - especially in a movie that had up until now been so successful in parodying college life.
- Vilifying the Ugly. This is an all-to-common trope used in movies aimed at a college-aged demographic, perhaps due to the assumption that viewers in their early-twenties are vapid and superficial (are we?), but personally I resent it being used so blatantly. Without going into too much detail, the tendency is essentially "the less attractive a character, the eviller they are" (with the exception of the pre-established protagonists, of course). It's predictable, it's offensive, and it just doesn't set the stage for very ground-breaking story-telling.