'22 Jump Street': What the Critics Are Saying

5:00 AM PST 06/13/2014 by Ashley Lee

The meta-sequel reunites bumbling drug-busting duo Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill for an assignment on a college campus.

22 Jump Street, out Friday, reunites the bumbling drug-busting duo played by Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill in the sequel to the hit 2012 remake—but this time,  it's on a college campus.

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Directed once again by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, and also featuring Peter Stormare, Ice Cube, Dave Franco, Nick Offerman, Amber Stevens and Wyatt Russell, the R-rated comedy is predicted to open in the $55 million to $60 million range over Father's Day weekend.

Read what top critics are saying about 22 Jump Street:

The Hollywood Reporter's film critic John DeFore calls 22 in his review "a piece of Hollywood hackwork that aims to be exactly like the first, only bigger and more expensive. ... Fortunately, 22 is just like 21 in at least one more way: It's laugh-packed, self-aware in a manner that lets everyone in on the joke and goofily satisfying in the action department." The franchise introduces new characters, including Amber Stevens and Jillian Bell—the latter of whom "gets more mileage than anyone out of the film's many jokes about the stars' age."

Of the sequel's approach to the concept of a sequel, "the most reliable humor here comes from the film's 30 Rock-like way of drawing attention to the showbiz cliches it's indulging in. ... In addition to meta gags, we do get big, stunty chases and the like, especially when the action moves south for spring break. The finale is totally ridiculous but fun, finally allowing these two mismatched buddies to form one perfect unit of cop-flick cool."

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The New York Times' Manohla Dargis says the sequel is "an exploding pinata of gags, pratfalls, winking asides, throwaway one-liners and self-reflexive waggery." While 21 had Tatum's Jenko ostracized in comparison to Hill's Schmidt, "the new movie somewhat reverses that dynamic, even as it continues to milk jokes about who’s popular and not. It’s an odd coupling that still tickles a comedy sweet spot partly because both actors are naturally likable and seem to be having a good time. It helps that they look funny together, resembling nothing so much as a sideways exclamation point."

Of the duo, "it’s no surprise then that Mr. Hill can approximate a cannonball convincingly, yet he also gets mileage out of stillness, as when he drains his face of emotion and widens his eyes, a bit of business that shows how Schmidt is, with total guile, trying to feign guilelessness. ... Like a lot of musclemen, Mr. Tatum can look almost captive to his body, which makes his grace all the more pleasurable, as in a wittily choreographed fight that’s part jitterbug dance-off, part wrestling match."

Los Angeles Times' Betsy Sharkey writes that 22 "is a monument to mocking, a master class in dissing, a parody of pastiche, poking its R-rated finger at social conventions, sequels, stereotypes, football, frats, friends, drugs, sex—even its stars. In fact, it is impossible to exaggerate how magnanimous its comic malfeasance is.  ... A great deal of insanity ensues, none of which would work if Tatum and Hill weren't so disarming in their roles. Their level of comfort with the characters and each other helps 22 click."

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Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips gives the film three stars, since it's "a brazen sequel that's both slightly disappointing and a reliable, often riotous 'laffer.' ... They're back in their familiar grooves, for better or worse." He also highlights a pair of new characters, "the hilarious identical twins and comedians Kenny and Keith Lucas, who treat the movie to a 'jinx, you owe me a Coke' routine that is truly wonderful. (I could've watched these two all night.)"

Time's Richard Corliss says of the meta-sequel that "the problem is that nearly two hours of rationalizing repetition, even by winking at it, can get wearying. We get the same drug investigation plot as the first film's, just with different suspects." Still, "things get divinely crazier during the closing credits, which shows clips from more than a dozen Jump Street sequels, from 23 into the 30s. (Stay until the very end.)"

Email: Ashley.Lee@THR.com
Twitter: @cashleelee

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