22 Jump Street review: Jonah Hill's yearning for Channing Tatum is never in doubt

3.00

Unlike most buddy movies, the homoeroticism is never suppressed

In an era in which sequels and reboots of old franchises invariably have more to do with merchandising than cinema, you can’t help but warm to the glee with which writer-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller customise other people’s ideas.

They did a wonderful job with The Lego Movie, foregrounding the kids’ toys in a way which will have made the manufacturers happy while also filling the film with ironic and subversive pop cultural references that kept the parents entertained.

Lord and Miller are in equally inventive form with 22 Jump Street, their follow-up to their own 21 Jump Street (which was, in turn, based on the 80s TV series about undercover cops which helped make Johnny Depp a star.)

Whereas new superhero films tend to try to conceal the fact that they are re-telling a story that has been told countless times on screen before, Lord and Miller make a virtue of the fact that the new film is intended as a near carbon copy of its predecessor. That’s part of the joke. “Do the same thing as first time. Everybody’s happy,” is the philosophy.

In 21 Jump Street, cops Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) infiltrated a high school to catch the dealers of a drug called H.F.S. The subtle change this time round is that they are going undercover at a local university college instead to hunt down the supplier of new drug called Why Fy. (This enables takers to study with intense focus for four hours and then to party wildly.)

The humour here ranges from Mack Sennett-style slapstick to sophisticated, very knowing satire. The film opens with Schmidt and Jenko trying haplessly to pass themselves off as Mexicans in an attempt to arrest a notorious drugs kingpin Ghost. (He is played by Swedish actor Peter Stormare, one of Ingmar Bergman’s old favourites.)  For no very good reason, they get attacked by an octopus and end up dangling in mid air after a collision on a bridge.

Tatum is very funny as the taciturn, slow-witted Jenko who fires off malapropisms whenever he is called on to speak. “I am so sorry for being a homophone,” he says after making an anti-gay joke. He doesn’t know the difference between “anal” and “annal” or between “carte blanche” and “Cate Blanchett.”

A bromance like no other: Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum A bromance like no other: Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum

There is something strangely touching about his response after arriving on campus and discovering the college has a library. “They still have books!” he exclaims in true wonder. “I thought they just put the books into the computers.” His Jenko is like a comic version of the Olympic wrestler he plays in another, far darker new movie, Foxcatcher. He’s an all-American jock: a star athlete who can open bottles of beer with his teeth but lacks anything resembling an inner life.

By contrast, Jonah Hill’s Schmidt is neurotic, self-conscious - and all inner life . He is nicknamed “Maya Angelou” after a wildly eccentric attempt at performance poetry. Whatever he does riles his boss, Captain Dickson (Ice Cube in roaring, self-parodic form.)

In most buddy movies, the homoeroticism is suppressed. Here, Schmidt’s romantic yearning for his athletic partner is never in doubt. They hold hands when they visit a therapist to discuss their relationship (and to try to smoke out the drug dealer.)

The plot sees the grizzled thirty something heroes going through all the traditional college rituals. They endure some frat party hazing. They both find new objects of affection. Schmidt begins an unlikely affair with Maya (Amber Stevens) while Jenko becomes soul mates (in a Bill and Ted-style way) with the college football team’s quarterback Zook (Wyatt Russell), who is almost as dim as he is and shares his orgasmic love of Lamborghinis. Zook and Jenko don’t so much communicate in language as in whoops and in high fives. The two words they use most frequently are “dude” or “bro.” Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star in 22 Jump Street Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star in 22 Jump Street

Against the odds, Lord and Miller makes us care about characters who could easily seem like grotesque comic creations. There is a sweetness to Schmidt that is evident both in his bungling courtship of Maya and in his dogged loyalty to his fellow undercover cop. Jenko, meanwhile, is endlessly good natured, whatever insults and humiliations come his way.

For all its self-reflexive jokes, 22 Jump Street is a very traditional affair that offers audiences the same pleasures as Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello or even Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin films. Its undercover policemen heroes are yet another variation on the hapless but innocent heroes of comedies from the silent era onward. We root for them in spite of their monumental stupidity.

The film attitude toward sex is ambivalent in the extreme. There are plenty of double entendres in the dialogue but the scenes between Schmidt and Maya are very discreetly shot. We don’t see their lovemaking - we just hear about it in the lurid, mocking descriptions given by Maya’s endlessly sarcastic roommate Mercedes (Jillian Bell). Schmidt and Jenko may be well into their 30s but they are as naive as college freshmen.

In the final reel, as the cops head down to Florida, the film veers into the same territory as Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers (2012). The shots of thousands of scantily clad college students dancing and drinking on the beach could come straight from Korine’s film.

22 Jump Street isn’t as subversive as Spring Breakers, which turned usual beach movie conventions on their head as it exposed the racial and class tensions that went alongside the drug taking and sexual excess.

Lord and Miller opt instead for a cartoonish finale in which Schmidt and Jenko are finally given the chance to demonstrate their action hero credentials.

There is no sign of the filmmakers’ inspiration running dry. After all, they just need to keep on repeating themselves. As they demonstrate in a montage sequence over the end credits, they could easily make 20 or more Jump Street sequels following exactly the same formula - and few audiences would begrudge them if they did.

Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

comics
Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

film
Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
art
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Kitchen set: Yvette Fielding, Patricia Potter, Chesney Hawkes, Sarah Harding and Sheree Murphy
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Evans has been confirmed as the new host of Top Gear
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Top of the class: Iggy Azalea and the catchy ‘Fancy’
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

    Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map
    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies