’22 Jump Street’ Makes Small Leap Forward as Sequel
Schmidt (HILL) and Jenko (TATUM) with Dickson (ICE CUBE) confront the bad guys at Gringo Pendejo's in "22 Jump Street." ©Columbia Pictures.

Schmidt (HILL) and Jenko (TATUM) with Dickson (ICE CUBE) confront the bad guys at Gringo Pendejo’s in “22 Jump Street.” ©Columbia Pictures.

Special to Front Row Features

“22 Jump Street” is a little more scattered story-wise than “21 Jump Street” was, but it does show more heart as the bumbling undercover cop duo Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) have to examine their “bro” relationship and finally realize that they need each other to be complete. However, constantly comparing their “partner” relationship to a romantic one for laughs wears a bit old after the first couple of bromance jokes. The film’s success rests not only on wacky action and gags but in the fact that Tatum and Hill have improved upon their great comic timing and play off each other wonderfully.

Story goes: After successfully busting a high school drug ring, money for more undercover action is flowing for the boys and officers Schmidt and Jenko take their act to college to solve a coed’s murder and crack down on the seller and supplier of a new, deadly designer drug. When Jenko’s longtime dream of being a football star starts coming true, it’s hard for him to leave the game and his new fratbro buds. Schmidt has a cute girlfriend and is becoming part of the posh, classy, bohemian art scene on campus. Can these two boy/men solve the case, stay friends and not be sucked into their new faux life?

After morphing a lame ‘80s TV series premise into a hilarious big screen romp in “21 Jump Street” (2012), directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller make fun of the fact that the story and case in “22” are basically the same as that in the first film. A little more narrative creativity would have been nice but “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

The charm of the two leads glides the film over any possible roads to bumpy boredom. “22” is just as irreverent as “21” and a fun relationship twist toward the end as well as a turn in the case keep things fresh. Some of the funniest action takes place toward the film’s end when the guys have to join the debauched Spring Break scene in Mexico.

Supporting characters are enacted by talented pros like Ice Cube as Captain Dickson, and Peter Stormare as drug kingpin Ghost. The ladies are represented well by pretty Amber Stevens as Schmidt’s girlfriend Maya and the hilarious Jillian Bell as Maya’s intolerant roomie Mercedes. Expect some fun cameos, although if Johnny Depp is in this one, I missed him.

Are the filmmakers expecting to make “23 Jump Street?” Shifting the undercover HQ to the church across the street and revealing construction in the #23 lot next door would lead us to believe so. Stick around right before the end credits for a funny preview of all possible undercover assignments the guys could ever have in future as they go to: Medical School, Fireman School, Beauty School, Dance School, Magic School, have an animated series made of their adventures and more.

As with almost all “balls out” comedy films, some jokes hit and some get redundant or miss entirely but will you laugh your head off and even get a little emotionally attached as the guys’ friendship is tested? Sure.

Grade: B