Thursday, July 31, 2014
22 Jump Street - Overload of Crude Humor
2 out of 5 Stars
I try to keep an open mind about new movies. I tend to give most movies a chance, even when I am not particularly fond of members of the cast. With some actors and actresses, it is a little harder for me to do that. Originally I really wasn’t interested in seeing 22 Jump Street. I only recently saw the first movie, and, well, it wasn’t a favorite. I don’t really like Jonah Hill, though I have managed to like some of his movies. I ended up going to see 22 Jump Street. I should have followed my initial instincts and avoided it.
After somehow managing to be successful with their assignment out of 21 Jump Street that sent them back to high school looking for drug dealers, partners Jenko and Schmidt have trouble with other assignments. They get a lead on Ghost, a drug dealer, but mess up in a big way and are sent to 22 Jump Street - across the street in a different abandoned church from 21 Jump Street. Captain Dickson assigns Jenko and Schmidt to go undercover at the local college to find who is suppling a new drug called WHYPHY that has been linked to the death of a student.
It doesn’t take long for Jenko to start up a friendship with Zook and Rooster, fraternity brother football players. Schmidt doesn’t fit in with them at all and he starts feeling left out. He does manage to start a relationship with art student Maya even while being looked down on by Maya’s roommate Mercedes. Jenko and Schmidt start to drift apart and the investigation, as well as their friendship, suffers.
During the first several minutes of the credits, there are a series of clips from fake sequels that have Jenko and Schmidt going undercover in other schools, like medical school, culinary school, and a seminary - in which Seth Rogen replaces Jonah Hill as Schmidt because of “contract negations”. The clips are amusing. At the end of the credits there is a short scene that ties back into something that happened earlier during the movie. I’m guessing it was supposed to be funny, but I didn’t think it was. It was just an attempt at a joke being taken too far yet again.
While I did laugh here and there at things happening in 22 Jump Street, I didn’t find the movie that funny overall. Far too often, the “jokes” fell flat for me. From very early in the movie there are a lot of jokes about movie sequels being exactly the same as the first movies, how a bigger budget doesn’t guarantee success, and how all sequels stink. The movie is very self aware, including through the clips during the credits. That stuff is fine at first, but it gets old fast. The same thing happens any other time something actually funny happens. The writers didn’t know when to quit. Mercedes spends just about every minute she is on screen making cracks about old people and how ancient Schmidt is. That was just stupid.
There are a lot of gay jokes tied to the relationship between Jenko and Schmidt. There are some tied to Jenko’s growing friendship with Zook as well later in the movie. The first few of those jokes was fine, but again, the writers didn’t know when to quit. It got to a point where it was uncomfortable that they were resorting to that sort of joke again. The humor would have worked better overall if there wasn’t so much overkill with certain types of jokes going on. It is almost like someone decided that if it was funny once, then doing the same sort of joke 900 more times will be absolutely hilarious. It isn’t. I don’t mind dumb comedies or silly movies at times. This one just didn’t work for me. There some pop culture type references, including references to Batman, Robin, and Spider-man. Sexual references, some of which are rather vulgar, are used throughout the movie. They are something else that I think were intended to be funny that weren’t.
I don’t know if everything in the movie was actually scripted or if improvisation went on during filming. Jonah Hill is part of a group of male actors who do a lot of improvisation during their movies. They seem to think anything they think up on the spot is hilarious no matter how stupid it is. Saying whatever pops into your head and then laughing doesn’t make something funny. Some people are really, really good at improvisation, but not everyone is. Hill - and the group of actors that includes Seth Rogen - isn’t that good at it. I have seen extras on some DVDs that have actors going on and on and on, trying to come up with something funny by just spewing nonsense. A lot of the stuff that Mercedes says about how old Schmidt is has that sort of feel to it.
The few action scenes do seem a bit exaggerated and over the top. There is sort of a chase at the beginning, and a longer chase later that has Jenko and Schmidt going after two different suspects. The action does take a back seat to the attempts at humor. Some violence is in a few scenes without the movie being violent overall. The word that rhymes with luck, along with variations of it, are used by just about every character, something else that is over done. Drugs play a part in what is going on, including when Jenko and Schmidt unknowingly ingest some and have a weird trip. The movie does deserve the R rating, and it isn’t one that children of any age should see.
I didn’t think any of the characters were that interesting. Jenko is good looking and becomes popular at college, but he is dumber than a box of rocks. That makes it harder to believe him as a college student than the fact that he is older than his classmates. Schmidt is overly needy and clingy where Jenko is concerned, but he is still somehow able to hook up with Maya, a girl well out of his league. Jonah Hill didn’t annoy me as much as he has in other movies, but he still isn’t funny. Channing Tatum really isn’t funny either.
Maya is just a pretty art student who has a family member that could add complications. Mercedes is a waste most of the time. She and Schmidt get into a fight at one point that is just ridiculous. Captain Dickson is only around in a few scenes. He mostly is yelling about something. The Ghost is a drug dealer the guys are after at the beginning who may or may not turn up again later. Rooster and Zook are the football playing frat brothers. Neither of them seem that bright either. Zook is around a little more since he becomes more of a friend to Jenko. I didn’t realize that Wyatt Russell was playing Zook when watching the movie. Different students are around briefly without them adding anything to the movie.
22 Jump Street has a few moments here and there that work or that are funny, but overall, it just isn’t funny. I know the movie has gotten a lot of good reviews, but I don’t understand that. I don’t get what is so good or entertaining about it. This is definitely not a movie for everyone.
This review is part of elvisdo’s 7th Annual Funny Pages Write off because of the references to Batman, Robin, and Spider-man.