Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Things To Do

Review: '22 Jump Street' sequel is best when mocking its flaws

The beauty of the Jump Street franchise is its inherent reasons to be lousy, that everyone involved brazenly embraces. Seldom does any movie series so freely point out what a bad idea it seems to be.

When the comedy clicks, it's masterfully meta. If the jokes fall flat, well, what did you expect? It's a movie based on a TV show and they hardly ever work. Each gag is therefore a pre-emptive strike against being disliked. It's brilliant.

The flaw propelling 22 Jump Street is that it's a sequel. "Do the same thing as last time, everyone's happy," a cranky police captain (Nick Offerman) orders Jenko and Schmidt, the comfortably dumb cop buddies played by Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. Then the movie mostly does, and he's right.

It's another designer drug ring being investigated, this time on a college campus where Jenko and Schmidt being older than everyone else is still obvious. Finding the dealer whose product killed a student is a mystery never getting in the way of a decent dumb joke. Like a tattoo clue that's a red herring. Really.

Much of the narrative stems from friction in Jenko and Schmidt's relationship, each following leads to different college experiences. For Jenko (Tatum) it's a frat house and football, with a teammate (Wyatt Russell, son of Kurt) who's a prime suspect. Schmidt (Hill) schlumps into the art majors' bohemian turf and a hookup (Amber Stevens) with a creepily deadpan roommate (the very funny Jillian Bell).

The college material doesn't draw half as much laughter as Offerman's sardonic observations of sequel protocol, and Ice Cube's pressure cooked turn as Jenko and Schmidt's superior officer, with ample reason to blow his top. Or the demented prison cameos by Rob Riggle and Dave Franco, serving time for the first movie.

Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are better known for madcap animation like The LEGO Movie, and occasionally treat their human stars similarly. Action set pieces have a Looney Tunes edge, with enough violent sight gags and spontaneous combustions to make Wile E. Coyote cringe.

22 Jump Street is a mixed bag of clever spoofery and miscalculated outrageousness. The unveiled homoeroticism of practically all interaction between Jenko and Schmidt is amusing to the point when it isn't. It's distracting and mildly disingenuous after Hill's recent apology for tossing a homophobic slur at a paparazzo. Other jokes involving Tracy Morgan and Maya Angelou further serve as examples of poor comic timing.

Better to mine the bromantic chemistry between Tatum and Hill, an odd couple physically, conjoined at the funny bone. They treat each other like one's Tom Hanks and the other's Meg Ryan, several IQs points lower. Their low blows and malapropisms alone — "I thought we had Cate Blanchett on this assignment," when Jenko means "carte blanche" — bear repeating in impolite company.

Be sure to stick around for the end credits, providing a solid ending to a so-so comedy. The bit shows the Jump Street franchise's future, from 23 to 41, busting crooks in schools from seminary to veterinarian, with video games and cartoons to boot. I think Lord and Miller are joking. Nothing should be put past them.

Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall on Twitter.

Comments
Dave Matthews Band coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

Dave Matthews Band coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

Just like that, the Dave Matthews Band is returning to Tampa, and all is right with the world.After a rare year off from touring, Dave and company are gearing up to get back on their regular summer road schedule, including a late-July stop at Tampa's...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
Kid Rock to perform during NHL All-Star Game in Tampa

Kid Rock to perform during NHL All-Star Game in Tampa

The NHL has announced its first in-game performer for this month's NHL All-Star Game in Tampa, and it's a guy whose heart bleeds Red Wings red: Kid Rock.The Detroit rocker will perform during the second and third periods of the game on Jan. 28 at Ama...
Updated: 1 hour ago
‘Fire and Fury’ burns up bestseller lists

‘Fire and Fury’ burns up bestseller lists

When author Michael Wolff was interviewed on the Today show about his book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Savannah Guthrie asked him how he felt about President Donald Trump’s attacks on it. Wolff responded, "Where do I send the box of ...
Published: 01/17/18
Steve Martin and Martin Short talk touring together and ‘newfangled old-fashioned’ variety show

Steve Martin and Martin Short talk touring together and ‘newfangled old-fashioned’ variety show

It’s barely been a year since Steve Martin and Martin Short last brought their roadshow to town. But there was never a doubt in their minds they’d be back."We thought — and I seriously mean this — we’ve got to play Florida more." Martin said in a pho...
Published: 01/17/18
We tried eating the recommended serving of fruit and vegetables for a week, and it was harder than we thought

We tried eating the recommended serving of fruit and vegetables for a week, and it was harder than we thought

I sat at my desk eating chunked pineapple straight out of the can, reading about how much fruit and vegetables we should all be eating every day: 1 1/2 to two cups of fruit, 2 1/2 to three cups of vegetables, at a minimum, per the United States Depar...
Published: 01/17/18

Wednesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballTulsa at Temple6 p.m.ESPNewsVillanova at Georgetown6:30 p.m.FS1Dayton at St. Joseph’s6:30 p.m.CBSSNArkansas at Florida7 p.m.ESPN2; 1250-AMSMU at Wichita State7 p.m.ESPNUAuburn at Alabama7 p.m.SECUSF at East Carolina7 p.m.820-AM...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Lou Gramm, Mick Jones join Billy Joel on stage for Foreigner tunes

Lou Gramm, Mick Jones join Billy Joel on stage for Foreigner tunes

Billy Joel's been knockin' 'em dead at his regular Madison Square Garden shows these days. And staying home in NYC also gives the Piano Man a chance to dazzle his audience with surprise guests. For the Jan. 11 show, it was Lou Gramm and Mick Jon...
Published: 01/16/18
Why ‘Phantom Thread’ is a bad fit as Daniel Day-Lewis’ final movie

Why ‘Phantom Thread’ is a bad fit as Daniel Day-Lewis’ final movie

BY STEVE PERSALLTimes Movie CriticPaul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread is passionless window-shop cinema, each static tableau lovingly arranged for display and easy dusting. Its centerpiece is a mannequin, albeit played by Daniel Day-Lewis, whose gi...
Published: 01/16/18
Tampa Rep’s ‘Gnit’ is a sharp commentary on narcissism in the age of selfies

Tampa Rep’s ‘Gnit’ is a sharp commentary on narcissism in the age of selfies

By JULIE GARISTOTimes CorrespondentTAMPA — Tampa Repertory Theatre’s Gnit strikes gold for theatergoers who appreciate deadpan wit, clever wordplay and incisive commentary on the human condition.First produced in 2013, the retread of a Scandinavian c...
Published: 01/16/18
From the food editor: Recipe for warm, cozy Pita Ribollita soup

From the food editor: Recipe for warm, cozy Pita Ribollita soup

When I first made this soup, Florida was in the grips of a cold weather snap, the likes of which rarely happens in this part of the state. We’re talking a whole week of lows in the 30s. The 30s! It was everything I ever wanted and more — the rare win...
Published: 01/16/18