Granger on Movies: "22 Jump Street"
Published 1:50 pm, Saturday, July 5, 2014
Having conquered the box office in their first mismatched buddies action-comedy, those bumbling undercover cops -- brawny Jenko (Channing Tatum) and brainy Schmidt (Jonah Hill) -- are back again. Only, this time, they've moved into the Vietnamese church across the street, along with Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman).
"Nobody cared about the Jump Street reboot," they're told, "but you got lucky, so now this department has invested a lot of money to make sure Jump Street keeps going."
Admittedly too old for high school, they're dispatched by Capt. Dickson (Ice Cube) to infiltrate a drug ring that's based out of a local university called MC State -- and the name of the popular, new synthetic substance is WhyPhy (say it out loud). Otherwise, it's same identities, same assignment. As Dickson says, "It's the same case. Do the same thing."
On the football field, Jenko the jock immediately befriends the dim-witted quarterback, Zook (Wyatt Russell), leading him to wonder what his life might have been like if he'd stayed with football and not entered the Police Academy. But that, once again, leaves Schmidt to fend for himself as a nerdy outsider -- just like when they were in high school. At least -- until he hooks up with Maya (Amber Stevens), a compliant art major with a crazy-eyed roommate (Jillian Bell) who keeps making jokes about his age.
Originally based on Johnny Depp's 1980s TV show "21 Jump Street" and scripted by Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel and Rodney Rothman, it's cleverly directed with self-awareness by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who catapulted to fame and fortune with "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" (2009), "21 Jump Street" (2012) and "The Lego Movie" (2013). The guys' bickering, rapid-fire bro-mance chemistry convinces the campus therapist that they should be into couples-counseling, but there are also lots of chase sequences, shoot-outs (even in a campus library) and fights, culminating with "Something cool!"
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "22 Jump Street" is a subversively satisfying, if senselessly silly 6 -- and stay for the closing credits.