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July 3, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: 22 Jump Street

I should have known better.  Just like “Legally Blonde” and “Dumb and Dumber,” a comedy based on a premise as opposed to one based on truly funny characters merged with a clever situation should never have a sequel.

“22 Jump Street” takes up right where “22 Jump Street” left off.  Officers Jenko and Schmidt are sent undercover, this time to a local university instead of high school.  Posing as incoming freshmen, they are searching for clues to another student’s death.  She had apparently taken a new drug on the market and Schmidt and Jenko are ordered to find the dealer who sold it to her before other innocent college students can be killed.  Jenko makes inroads with members of a fraternity that specializes in getting drunk and playing football.  

Schmidt finds what may be true love.  Along the way, they lose sight of the fact they are partners.  

Although in many ways offensive (foul language permeates the movie, casual sex is the rule, not the exception even for the “good” kids, drug use and perpetual drunken binges are seen as good clean fun for college students), “22 Jump Street” had the potential to be an entertaining and uplifting movie, dealing with issues such as loyalty and friendship.  And although dealing with the very serious issues of drug use and death, it had the potential to be very humorous.  Instead, it lumbers along like a Clint Eastwood directed character study, occasionally making use of puns and gaffes by the characters.

Buff Channing Tatum (“White House Down”) plays Jenko, the physically gifted but verbally inept partner who gets a shot at playing collee football.  Schmidt is played by the rotund Jonah Hill (“The Wolf of Wall Street”) as a needy, clingy outcast whose nasal whine and penchant for outrageous lies is mildly humorous, mostly pathetic, and always irritating.  Ice Cube (“Rampart”) plays their boss Captain Dickson as a scowling bully.  

Peter Stormaire (“The Last Stand”) is the mysterious villain known only as The Ghost.  Amber Stevens (“The Amazing Spider-Man”) portrays Schmidt’s wide-eyed girlfriend Maya.  Wyatt Russell (“Cowboys and Aliens”) is Jenko’s football-slinging buddy as an over-achieving stoner.

“22 Jump Street” is vacuous, inane blather.  But that can be a virtue in the hands of truly gifted writers and directors.  Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (partners in “21 Jump Street”) seem to have forgotten this should be a zany comedy, slowing the pace inexorably.  Writers  Michael Bacall (“Inglourious Basterds”), Rodney Rothman (“Grudge Match”), and newcomer Oren Uziel spend far too much time trying to explain what the characters are feeling instead of focusing on the hilarity that would make it comedic entertainment.  “22 Jump Street” has some screamingly funny moments, but they are so few and far between that you may doze off waiting for them.  Some gags also just fall flat out or directorial mismanagement: one scene involving Schmidt and a female criminal attempts to make the link to a love-hate relationship not unlike that seen by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” but the scene is so long and repetitive that all the humor in it dribbles down the chin of a toothless retiree.  And that pretty much describes the movie in a nutshell.

2.0 Stars


1 star — Avoid this boring mess of a movie at all costs.  Reading the dictionary is more entertaining.

2 stars — If you're in the right mood or if the subject matter appeals to you, you may like this film; or it is uneven, at times entertaining and believable and at other times sophomoric.  If you've got nothing else to do, it may be worth the price of admission (at least a matinee).

3 stars — This is a generally good movie that most people will enjoy.  If you're looking for an entertaining couple of hours, spend it here and you won't be disappointed.

4 stars — Don't miss this film!  I don't care if you have time or not, make the time, because this movie is terrific.


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  • MOVIE REVIEW: 22 Jump Street

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