'22 Jump Street' has plenty of laughs, great chemistry

Gary Wolcott, atomictown.comJune 12, 2014 

22 Jump Street is a funny movie. Though they didn't write this one or the original film, directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (who penned Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 1 and 2 and The Lego Movie) are comedy geniuses.

That's a plus. Another plus: most comedy sequels aren't as fun or amusing as the first. But there are negatives. Like the original, and in spite of the two talented directors and a mega-talented cast, 22 Jump Street is a comedy in search of a center.

First, the negatives. The story -- developed by the first film's writer Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill -- picks up where 21 Jump Street left off. Hill's Schmidt and Channing Tatum's Jenko have saved high school. Their cranky captain -- played again by Ice Cube -- sends them to save college.

They're assigned to track down the source of a dangerous new drug. It's WhyFhy. The name leads to a bad joke followed by more ill-conceived and badly written bits.

Schmidt and Jenko, pledged in the last movie as brothers forever, have a crisis. The athletic Jenko ends up on the football team and best buds with the team's quarterback. The more cerebral Schmidt is jealous and connects and falls for Maya, a beautiful young woman and art major. Her connection to the two is pretty funny but must remain a surprise.

Much of the humor dwells on the relationship of the two main characters. There are hints of homosexuality that are supposed to be funny but end up providing more awkward moments than laughs. It also slows down the film.

Positives: When 22 Jump Street is funny, it's really funny. Hill and Tatum have great chemistry and comedic timing. So does Ice Cube, who also has funny bits. The scene-stealer, however is newcomer Jillian Bell, who plays Maya's roommate. Her deadpan delivery is reminiscent of the star-making work Melissa McCarthy did in Bridesmaids.

And you absolutely have to stay for the outtakes at the end. They're the best part of a comedy that has more positives than negatives.

Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Stars: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Peter Storemare, The Lucas Brothers, Nick Offerman, Rob Riggle, Jillian Bell, Amber Stevens, Wyatt Russell

Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars

Rated R for mature themes, language. It's playing at the Carmike 10, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.

-- Check out Mr. Movie's groundbreaking reviews at www.tricityherald.com/arts/mrmovie.

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