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"22 Jump Street": Celebrating the Derivative! 

Wednesday, Jun 11 2014

Self-reflexive silliness prevents sequelitis in 22 Jump Street, a deft and delirious follow-up to 2012's TV-show adaptation that mocks its very duplicative nature at every turn. As in the original, directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie) indulge in non stop self-consciousness, this time fixating on the action's do-everything-the-same-as-before formula. To wit: Goofball police partners Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) are sent undercover to a local university in order to bust yet another mystery drug dealer peddling a narcotic that kills, along the way finding their relationship strained by new bonds forged with classmates. It's a set-up littered with wink-wink gags, only a few of which wind up feeling like limp variations on once-fresh material. Lord and Miller's cartoony style — marked by gonzo one-liners and clever allusions screaming across the screen — gives the film a breakneck unpredictability that often results in slyly smart punchlines, none better than a drug-tripping sequence that finds Hill's personal hell set to the music of '90s alt-rockers Creed. While it drags on a bit too long, 22 Jump Street gets considerable mileage out of Jenko and Schmidt's quasi-romantic rapport, as well as the friction that arises between Schmidt and their profanely barking captain Dickson (Ice Cube). However, even more than its stars' yin-yang chemistry and a riotous supporting turn by Jillian Bell (as a snarky college freshman), what drives the film is a meta-comedy-on-mescaline pace that peaks during an end-credit montage of truly inspired blockbuster self-mockery.

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Nick Schager


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