Characters in the sequel “22 Jump Street” refer to events in the previous movie, the surprise hit “21 Jump Street,” as if they were a movie.
For example, no one on the police force expected the whole “21 Jump Street” thing to work, and so they want heroes Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) to do the exact same thing again, only with more money, even though everyone knows the current effort won’t be as good as last time.
Well, it is as good as last time, and every bit as zany and funny. It pushes the “bad sequel” idea — as well as the bromance angle between Tatum and Hill — to delirious degrees.
The team’s interactions are breathtakingly close to a generic movie romance. But with handsome Tatum and squat Hill in the roles, they are bent to classic comedy proportions.
Hill, who has earned Oscar nominations playing comical sidekicks for Brad Pitt (“Moneyball”) and Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Wolf of Wall Street”), has a gift for making his co-stars look good while getting the credit.
Tatum can be naturally funny on-screen, but Hill makes him doubly so, emphasizing his slow-to-awareness takes on one end, and his physical prowess on the other.
In “22 Jump Street,” the pair goes undercover in college to catch the manufacturer of a new drug called “WHYPHY.”
Schmidt hooks up with a pretty art major, Maya (Amber Stevens), while Jenko finds a perfect match, and a new BFF, in football-star frat boy “Zook” (Wyatt Russell). It’s Zook, not Maya, who throws up a divider between our heroes in the movie, which really is about love, if not sex, between bros.
Ice Cube is back, and funny as ever, as Captain Dickson, and Nick Offerman sets the cynical tone as Deputy Chief Hardy.
At the helm are Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, magically capable of turning bad ideas into good ones. They not only made “21 Jump Street,” but also “The Lego Movie,” 2014’s biggest hit (so far) and one of its best films.
With “22 Jump Street,” they achieve a steady stream of giggles, and a couple of strong, satisfying belly laughs.
Yet they do go wrong where many movies go wrong today, in that it’s simply too long, unable to sustain its pace and humor for two hours. Great comedians know to leave audiences wanting more.
22 Jump Street
Starring Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Peter Stormare
Written by Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel, Rodney Rothman, Jonah Hill Directed by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Running time 1 hour, 52 minutes