22 Jump Street
While this is a film that occasionally succeeds by mocking itself, it is far too rare to save it. The banal scenes nearly exhaust themselves, and thank God for an ending where you actually laugh.
The only reason I bought a ticket for 22 Jump Street was to find out why this movie was such a box office hit. And if I had followed my repeated instincts to walk out during the first 3/4’s of the film, I still wouldn’t know. However, I was cursed with my commitment to see all films through to their ending.
And it’s fortunate that I did, as the last quarter of the film involves some very funny moments, and it completely saves the whole experience. Without it, there is little that is creative or enjoyable.
As you know, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill play two police officers who are now assigned to impersonate college students as they investigate a new drug appearing at a college campus. Our boys are as dull as they are sanctimonious, and their interaction is brutally insipid. The film treats them like two of the Marx brothers, and they would be better cast as the human recreation of the Tom & Jerry cartoon characters.
On top of that, Ice Cube once again plays a one-dimensional police captain in charge of our lads, and he is good at profanity and little else. This is the exact same character he played in this year’s Ride Along, and he has devolved into a one trick pony.
Hill becomes repeatedly jealous of Tatum’s acceptance by a local fraternity as well as a starring position on the football team, and he pouts like a school girl jealous of her boyfriend’s other interests. This is a bromance that makes Hill and Tatum look like petulant teenagers.
Mercifully, the ending literally pulled 22 Jump Street out of cinematic quicksand. As our boys miraculously avoided being shot to death by armed gangsters, an hysterical sequence occurs when Mr. Hill physically confronts a villainous female student. Played by Jillian Bell, she produced a laugh with every line. For example, as she sought to club Hill senseless, she would suddenly stop and accuse him of trying to kiss her. When he hit her viciously in the face knocking her to the ground, he jumped on her to choke her, with her then embarrassing him with the accusation that he was trying to have sex with her. Now that was funny.
Finally, without giving away an ending that you all can predict, you have to watch the outtakes with the closing credits. Directors Phil Ford and Christopher Miller continually show future sequels to Jump Street, picking out numbers from 23 to infinity. We see our boys working undercover at a veterinary school, a medical school, a dance school, and then as old men in a retirement home, and you couldn’t help but leave the theater thinking that you had actually watched a good film. You knew you were wrong, but you didn’t really care.