PREVIEW: 22 JUMP ST (R13)
Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Reviewed by Graeme Tuckett
I didn't see 21 Jump Street.
I was having a break that week back in 2012, and the film passed me by. I'm sure it's turned up on the TV a few times since, but I haven't bothered with it. Which, in hindsight, might have been a mistake on my part. Because I have just seen the sequel - 22 Jump Street - and it was, contrary to whatever expectations I had, a truly funny, affectionate and good-natured film.
The original was a send up of the 1980's TV show that launched the career of Johnny Depp. The show was about a squad of youthful looking American cops going undercover at various high schools and colleges, and was often just as creepy and unintentionally hilarious as all that implies.
21 Jump Street was then, a perfect target for a satirical send-up, and from what I'm reading tonight, the 2012 film was everything the show deserved. It seems to me that this sequel is carrying on the good work.
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are the two cops. Their requisite hard-arse commanding officer (Ice Cube, sending himself up something rotten) sends them to college to investigate a drug ring. The film's first gag is that no one - including them - thinks they look young enough to be there. The second is that the partners are usually mistaken for a gay couple.
Generally in an American comedy, that would be the cue for an avalanche of gay-afraid jokes, but 22 Jump Street neatly undermines the genre, and fires off some great lines at the expense of the homophobes.
But the film's greatest on-running gag is its complete self-awareness. This a film that doesn't just mock the cop movie genre, it also openly mocks its own status as a sequel. "We're spending twice the money this time, so we're expecting twice the profit," says Cube at one point, and we know he's not talking about the investigation. Add those smarts to a screenplay chock-full of gags, wordplay and in jokes, and the result is a funny, likeable, mildly subversive film. Directors Phil' Lord and Christopher Miller also made the terrific Lego Movie, which is still playing. I don't know how they found the time, but I'm glad they did.
- The Dominion Post