22 Jump Street (R)

10 Stars

In the cinematic vernacular, there isn’t a term for a complete narrative comprised of two parts.

The best online suggestions include duology (my personal favorite), diptych and dyad.

An official word is necessary for the purposes of film discussion. There are a lot of Terminator spinoffs but the first two movies (directed by James Cameron) can be referenced as one entity.

The initial pair of Back to the Futures and Godfathers can also be discussed as duologies.

To provide a different and confounding example, Ace Ventura is one of the funniest comedies of all time. One couldn’t possibly differentiate between Pet Detective and When Nature Calls because they’re equally hilarious. But the plot threads of the two yarns don’t interweave into one gilded narrative lanyard.

My long-winded point is: When we give ‘duology’ the communal stamp of approval, let’s nail down the difference between a ‘series’ (the Ace Ventura’s) and a ‘collection’ (the Godfather‘s).

In the history of the laugh genre, the top three follow-ups are Rush Hour 2, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.

But 22 Jump Street is the best comedic sequel of all time.

And it’s all about balance.

No fooling. Yin, yang and all that.

Out of three big summer comedies, this buys the pie. (‘Takes the cake’ implies self-indulgent thievery.)

Since The Hangover franchise pumped out dastardly sequels, a fatigue has developed amongst the American audience. Most moviegoers (including yours truly) can’t tolerate recycled narratives.

This movie does a twisted inversion of exactly that. So the self-referential jokes are palpable.

Two sets of twins make appearances and that just begins the list of ‘2’ jokes.

There’s quite a bit to admire here. The trailer doesn’t spoil any of the actual plot. Sure, Jonah Hill gets a mouthful of squid-ink but it occurs early on.

Neighbors releases earlier this summer, and several hearty laughs (specifically ‘the airbag scene’) are spoiled because of the trailer. A Million Ways to Die in the West spoils most of the quality jokes via previews.

Other filmmakers can learn something from the marketing department’s careful use of footage.

Call-backs are a basic comedic staple. So thorough is 22’s self-awareness that cutaways, bits of scenery, metaphorical discussions of production difficulties and the early credits sequence are dedicated to calling-back.

A quick digression regarding the credits sequence. It’s a montage combining original scenes, animation, cover art and comments on the state of brand endorsement and merchandising. It’s both a critical jab at the film industry and a salute to modern cinema. There are multiple cameos from actors like Seth Rogen, who never appear in the movie until this lengthy sequence.

This is where the filmmakers go ‘above and beyond.’ Any form of credits sequence is a gift to the viewer, and although they’re becoming more prevalent, there’s a reason most movies lack an Easter Egg: Unnecessary work. Oftentimes they’re merely add-ons and don’t contribute much to the overall experience.

But this one’s different. In a way, it signifies the filmmakers’ understanding of the industry. And it puts a satisfying cap on the comedic series.

It calls attention to all future forms of potential revenue through Jump Street spin-offs, thereby implying an end to the franchise.

It’s probably best the collection remain a fantastic duology.

Each time the plot encounters a cinematic cliché; it’s referenced by the characters mid-scene and oftentimes recapitulated through call-backs. For instance Nick Offerman returns as Deputy Chief Hardy and lectures the protagonists about repeating narratives.

Schmidt and Jenko ingest Rice Krispy treats lined with ‘Wyfy,’ the newest intoxicant amongst college students.

The use of split screen in this movie is amazing, and the side-by-side depiction of a ‘good trip’ versus a ‘bad trip’ is right on the money, and hilarious.

A similar scene takes place in A Million Ways to Die in the West, but is far inferior.

The creative editing alone is worthy of applause.

A couple notes on the acting.

Ice Cube’s rock-solid. He plays Captain Dickson and delivers a hilarious performance as a supporting player.

Jonah Hill is a talented individual. He’s credited as a contributor to the writing, stars as Schmidt and is a driving force behind the film’s production. Hill appears earlier this year in The Lego Movie as the voice of Lego Green Lantern.

22 Jump Street comes from the guys who made The Lego Movie. So it’s no surprise that Lego Superman, voiced by Channing Tatum, banters with Green Lantern.

This choice along with the credits sequence (and the reveal from The Lego Movie) exemplifies sharp writing. These creative ideas are wildly admirable. We can use more compassionate filmmaking like this.

Tatum co-leads alongside Hill as Jenko, the more physically capable of the duo. That Channing fellow is one of our finest movie stars working today. In the past year he cameos in Don Jon and This is the End, and plays a leading role in Side Effects. He campaigns for the role of Gambit in the X-Men franchise, and eventually lands it.

Now he’s Gambit in the next feature, and starring in his own film. I can’t wait for both.

There’s action, hilarious car chase antics and plenty of satire to go around.

22 Jump Street proves to be more than just a satisfying sequel.

The only question remains:

Will Dumb & Dumber To be better?

Thoughts, perchance?

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