“Hill and Tatum Take Another Giant Leap”

“22 Jump Street”
Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum
Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller

A little over two years after the big screen version of the 80s cop show “21 Jump Street” turned out to be a far better comedy than it probably deserved to be, thanks to its smart, self-aware storyline and the amazing chemistry between co-stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, its bigger, better, tripper sequel “22 Jump Street” further solidifies the endearing bromance not only between its leads, but also its co-directors as well.

As far as Hill and Tatum are concerned, they seem much more at ease and confident in their roles, as the brotherly love that defines them is what makes the film so infectiously entertaining and endearing. That bond goes a long way, because “22 Jump Street” is basically the same movie – actually, it is the same movie – as its predecessor, right down to its plot, in which Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) graduate from high school to college to expose yet another drug trafficking ring.

As with most long-term relationships that make the jump from high school to college, the bond between Schmidt and Jenko is stretched to the breaking point, especially after Jenko embraces the fraternity lifestyle and becomes a college football hero while Schmidt is left behind and gets involved with the wrong girl. Fortunately, it’s nothing that a good car chase and a big spring break party can’t eventually repair, which helps make “22 Jump Street” the best bromantic comedy since 2009’s “I Love You, Man.”

But if “22 Jump Street” further solidifies the bond between Hill and Tatum, it does even bigger wonders for co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. In addition to directing its predecessor, Lord and Miller also directed the animated hits “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and this year’s wildly imaginative “The Lego Movie.” They bring that wild and wacky animated sensibility to their live action films, which is why “22 Jump Street” often feels like an animated movie unto itself and is all the better for it.

As far as buddy cop movies go, the “Jump Street” films are a worthy addition to the best of the genre, which also includes “Lethal Weapon,” “Hot Fuzz,” “Rush Hour” and, more recently, “The Heat.” As for whether or not there will be another sequel, you won’t want to miss the hilarious ending credits, which goes off the rails with crazy sequel ideas that will keep them busy for the next hundred years (seriously). And as long as they keep topping themselves like this, then “23 Jump Street” can’t get here fast enough.

– Scott Mantz