The summer movie season is not in full swing until the blockbuster sequels arrive. But 22 Jump Street may be Hollywood's first meta-sequel, a movie openly obsessed with the many facets of its own second-time-around status. The film jump-starts by everyone agreeing that buddy cops Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) must do exactly what they did in 21 Jump Street to crack the new case (and ensure big box-office numbers); navigates a car-chase sequence by having the heroes calculate the potential cost of their destructive choices to the police department (and to the Hollywood studio); and ends with a satirical preview of the next 20 or so Jump Street movies. What's not to like?
Filmmaking partners Phil Lord and Christopher Miller densely pack their second Jump Street film with nearly two hours worth of in-jokes and improvised humor, but the subject here is bromance. The unlikely odd-couple chemistry of Hill and Tatum is put to the test when they infiltrate the local college for undercover work and find themselves falling in with different crowds, just as high-school sweethearts often do. Lord and Miller milk the idea for all its worth, sending the "partners" to accidental couples therapy as the threat of a breakup looms. Ice Cube hits the mark as the always-agitated Capt. Dickson, and Jillian Bell (of Comedy Central's Workaholics) is hilarious as Mercedes, a sarcastic observer of Schmidt's on-campus antics — their eventual fistfight alone is worth the price of admission. It's all just funny enough to work. Audiences could do far worse at the multiplex this summer.