The pairing of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill for a cop-buddy comedy was inspired and led to the 2012 hit “21 Jump Street,” based on the television series that featured Johnny Depp. Thus it was a no-brainer that a sequel would hit the screens.
The bad news is that “22 Jump Street” is pretty much the same plot as its predecessor. The good news is that the co-directors of the original, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, along with one of the “21” screenplay writers, Michael Bacall, are back, and they cleverly poke fun at the fact the movie is a rehash.
Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum), who were pushing it in “21 Jump Street” by trying to pass themselves off as high school students in an undercover assignment, are again posing as students, this time in college, in an effort to break up a drug ring. Ice Cube is back as Capt. Dickson, still antagonistic, still employing colorful language.
Once on campus, the two officers, who had prided themselves on being a team, doing everything together, find themselves splitting apart. Jenko finds a kindred spirit in the college’s starting quarterback, Zook (Wyatt Russell) and fits in comfortably with the partying jock element on campus.
Schmidt, meanwhile, cannot compete there but hooks up with the bohemian art majors, drawn there by Maya (Amber Stevens), who brings out his sensitive side.
Amid their investigation, Schmidt and Jenko feel the tension as they continue to drift away from each other, especially when Jenko begins to consider pursuing a college football career.
There are a few twists along the way, including a stunning revelation involving Capt. Dickson.
Per usual, there are the slapstick scenes that exploit Schmidt’s athletic shortcomings, as well as Jenko’s stumbling efforts at improvising. The age jokes are prevalent also, mostly coming from Maya’s roommate Mercedes (Jillian Bell), who delivers relentless zingers at Schmidt.
The chemistry between Hill and Tatum is again a strong point of the movie, and Ice Cube offers a hilarious presence with his unabated rage and disgust. Surprisingly, the unlikely pairing of Schmidt and Maya has a sweetness that makes it authentic.
As amusing as “22 Jump Street” is at times, the highlight comes at the end, while the credits roll, and everybody involved in this comedy flat out make fun of the concept of sequels. So stick around to see it.