After infiltrating high school and busting up a local drug ring, it's time for officers Schmidt and Jenko to do it all over again — and that's pretty much no exaggeration.
This weekend, "22 Jump Street" hits theaters, and if there's one thing critics agree on, it's this: the sequel is almost exactly the same as the first film, at least on a plot level. But the comedy's acknowledgement of its similarities to the first "Jump Street" is what keeps it from suffering from sequelitis. Instead, the meta-level humor amps things up and turns "22 Jump Street" into one of the best-reviewed comedies of the year.
Here's what critics are saying about Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill's latest leap on "Jump Street."
"After a pretty hilarious opening that involves the partners trying to pass as Latino gangstas and a chase sequence that puts the film's action style somewhere between 'Mission: Impossible' and 'The Three Stooges,' Schmidt and Jenko are soon shipped off to college. Their assignment, per Nick Offerman's Deputy Chief Hardy, is to do exactly the same thing they did going undercover in a local high school in '21.' Exactly. Just rewind, repeat. Absolutely no thinking outside the box. That's one of several jabs at the proclivities of Hollywood sequels. Thinking outside the box, however, is exactly what allows '22 Jump Street' to make a brash creative leap that somehow lands on its feet — mostly." — Betsy Sharkey, The Los Angeles Times
The Self-Awareness Level
"Any doubts about '22 Jump Street' disappear in the opening seconds of the film, as 'Previously on "21 Jump Street" flashes on the screen and a quick montage repeats the entire previous film. Later as Schmidt and Jenko report to their new HQ they wonder where they’ll be stationed next year, and behind them is a construction site with a banner reading '23 Jump Street Condos Coming Soon.' The film is self-aware and loose and not taking itself the slightest bit seriously." — Devin Faraci, Badass Digest
"Playing it safe has scuppered many a sequel in the past. But Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the sharp brains behind 'The Lego Movie,' know what they're doing. They stick to formula so forcefully, and with such inventive flourishes, that the joke gets funnier and funnier with repetition. Best of all are the clips that unspool over the end credits, lampooning the current trend for stings by teasing not just the next 'Jump Street' but the next couple of dozen, plus ancillary media. (For the record: we really want to see the cartoon that teams Jenko and Schmidt with an octopus.)" — Nick de Semlyen, Empire Magazine
"Tatum is, predictably, adorable. His Jenko is a pumped-up naïf bumbling through life with a crooked smile, and Hill again makes a great sparring partner. Hill knows how to milk Schmidt's hurt feelings for laughs instead of fake pathos — it's a testament to his gifts that he doesn't overplay the sad-sack routine." — Stephanie Zacharek, The Village Voice
The Final Word
"If it seemed Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill couldn’t possibly exceed their over-the-top buddy cop antics of '21 Jump Street,' you lost that bet. They did it by doing the same thing, only bigger, in the considerably zanier and even more self-referential sequel '22 Jump Street.' There’s nothing these guys won’t do (or redo) for a laugh, the bigger the better and as stupidly as possible. While everything is writ larger, including the action sequences and the anger of the police captain (Ice Cube), it’s also mirthfully familiar." — Peter Howell, TheStar.com
"22 Jump Street" is in theaters now.