22 Jump Street shouldn’t be as funny as it is. It is a sequel of a movie based on a defunct television series, after all, which already renders it suspect as a cash-grab. Moreover, the filmmakers even include winking references to its sequelness, which makes the whole thing even more suspect for playing off the cash-grab as a cynical joke.
But perhaps that’s part of the undercover act for this franchise about a pair of unlikely undercover narcotics agents. Despite its unimaginative origins, this second installment does bring the considerable charm and comedic chops of stars Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street) and Channing Tatum (White House Down). And it marks another win for directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who helmed the initial flick in 2012 as well as this year’s The LEGO Movie.
Hill and Tatum return as the police team of Schmidt and Jenko — the former a roly-poly, needy type; the latter a dim bulb lunkhead — who pose as college freshmen to stop distribution of an Adderall and Ecstasy mix dubbed “WHYPHY.” While Jenko quickly finds glory on the football field and in a jock fraternity, Schmidt hooks up with a beautiful art major (Amber Stevens, The Amazing Spider-Man) and is forced the next morning to make the walk of shame across campus to his dorm room.
It’s sloppy, shaggy and not always successful, but 22 Jump Street scores more than enough broad-comedy laughs for a summer high. Its comic riffing is often fleet-footed and inspired, with some of the best scenes coming courtesy of Ice Cube (Ride Along) as Jump Street’s irascible captain.