Buddies and goofball rookie cops Schmidt and Jenko have made it through high school, police academy and then a second round of high school as bumbling undercover detectives. And they’re somehow still on the force. Who would’a thunk it?
After making their one big in-school drug bust (in 21 Jump Street), though, their bad-guy-grabbing success has been, well, so deep undercover that it’s sort of nonexistent. And the police commissioner wants that to change.
So this unlikely pair—as oddly mismatched as a pocket protector and eye black—are yet again being sent back to school as part of a yet again revamped Jump Street program. They’ll swing into college life this time in pursuit of a brand new brain-addling drug called WhyPhy that’s spreading across the campus like a viral video of a juggling cat.
The guys just have to follow their captain’s orders and “do the same thing as last time.” That shouldn’t be too hard since it essentially equates to masquerading as students, mingling amongst the locals, and then using their instincts and intellect to solve the crime.
Well … they’ve got the mingling part down, anyway.
Alas, these unlovable lunkheads are having a tough time staying focused on the case. There are so many things about college life to pull them in other, more interesting directions. Jenko’s feeling the draw of football fame and a cool new bromance with the team’s hotshot quarterback, Zook. Schmidt is, frankly, a little put out by that. But the truth is, he’s pretty pleased with himself for bedding a pretty co-ed.
Still, the more these two dig into the campus vibe, the more it becomes obvious that their devoted pal-ness and cop-y partnership might be at risk. And no amount of drug-laced treats from the stoner twins across the hall or all-night blowouts with hard-drinking fraternities or even that gay-couple therapy from the campus psychologist seem to help.
In spite of all the crazy brainless shenanigans, it’s “relatively” clear that Schmidt and Jenko have an opposites-attract friendship that both guys value.
In the first film, “21 Jump Street” was the address of an old Korean church that the guys used as their headquarters. Now, the authorities have purchased another building across the street at 22 Jump Street—which just happens to be an old Vietnamese church. Viola! The perfect opportunity to kick around crude gags about a Korean vs. Vietnamese Jesus. Ugh. Concocting an impromptu “slam poem,” Schmidt weaves the death of a girl named Cynthia and Jesus’s ultimate sacrifice together in the statement, “Jesus died for our … Cynthias.” Jenko sees an image of Jesus during a bad drug trip.
That college co-ed Schmidt hooks up with is named Maya. He spends the night having sex with her, and we see them in bed the next morning—him dressed in boxers and a shirt, and her in panties and a brief T. She makes it plain that she’s only interested in a short-term hookup, telling Schmidt, “I don’t even know if I like you when I’m sober.”
The girl’s roommate complains about how noisy their lovemaking was all night, then triggers an ongoing comical sexual tug-and-pull with Schmidt—resulting in a bare-knuckle fight interspersed with flirting and the suggestion of sex (à la the 2005 film Mr. & Mrs. Smith).
When Schmidt and Jenko trace a crime to a beachside resort in Mexico, they find themselves there during spring break—among thousands of teens and twentysomethings dressed in barely there swimwear. Quantities of bare flesh fill the screen during the dancing, bouncing, booze-fueled partying. On campus, young women dress in cleavage-revealing outfits. A girl in the school’s co-ed bathroom steps out of the shower wearing just a towel. While searching a girl’s room, Schmidt and Jenko find a dildo. Groping around for a hidden hand grenade that’s been placed under Schmidt’s shorts, Jenko repeatedly grabs his partner’s genitals.
The film features a running joke about Jenko and Schmidt’s relationship functioning much like a gay couple’s would—with Schmidt taking on the more feminine role. And, as mentioned, the two wind up in gay-couple counselling to save their sputtering friendship. When Jenko strikes up a relationship with Zook, there are more smiling winks made to the gay overtones of their iron-pumping bromance connection. A holdover character from the first film, Mr. Walters, talks about the freedom he felt after getting his penis shot off—and having it surgically replaced with a makeshift vagina. Then a number of off-color gags are made about the sexual activity he had with a male cellmate.
Crude sexual jokes and dialogue range from statements about the sexuality of George Washington, to children’s games that involve guns and erect penises, to gags about oral sex, to a woman’s slam poem about her lactating breasts.
Schmidt, Jenko and a number of drug-running thugs get into several gun-blazing firefights. Folks end up dead from bullet wounds to the chest and neck, and a helicopter is blown up with a grenade. Jenko and Schmidt are grabbed and captured at gunpoint. The daughter of the chief drug kingpin shoots Schmidt and Jenko’s boss, Captain Dickson, in the foot. She blasts others as well in a bullet-spraying rampage. Eventually she and Schmidt get into a nasty fistfight, exchanging vicious face blows.
Jenko picks up a nearby bikini-clad girl and uses her legs and feet as clubs to defend himself against two attackers. He head-butts an assailant while wearing a football helmet. Schmidt is attacked by an octopus that leaves a nasty bruise on his neck. An inebriated athlete keeps thumping head-first into a goal post until he knocks himself out cold. Schmidt is hit in the crotch with a Taser. During a car chase between the cops and pursuing thugs, hundreds of thousands of dollars of art and school property is destroyed. A crashing sports cart explodes in a roaring ball of flame. During the credits, a chef has a knife embedded in his chest.
Nearly 200 f-words and 60 or more s-words. Staccato interjections of “a‑‑,” “b‑‑ch” and “h‑‑‑” pepper everything. Vulgar and obscene words reference male and female genitals and sex acts. God’s name is paired with “d‑‑n” four or five times. Jesus’ name is abused repeatedly as well.
Beer, wine and hard booze flow freely and frequently at this cop-accosted college. We see it at wild and crazy frat parties, in the hands of guys hanging out on front porches and in dorm rooms, all over spring break raves and at restaurants, even meetings of the art club. At a fraternity hazing that features young adults liquored up to the point of staggering blackouts, even the squirt guns are filled with vodka. When Schmidt raises questions about all the supercharged partying, Jenko replies simply that “It’s fun!”
Remember that new party drug WhyPhy I mentioned so long ago? Well, it’s said to have killed a student. But before Jenko and Schmidt can pinpoint the head of the drug ring responsible, they eat bakery goods laced with the substance and promptly go a little crazy under its influence. Played as a hyper night of goofiness, the guys veer from overactive silly romping toward an abstract and cartoony “bad drug trip” that involves colorful sets and quick snapshot visions.
A drug-selling bad guy named Ghost wonders why kids these days are using WhyPhy instead of sticking with classic “old school drugs like cocaine and heroin.”
We see vomiting, and hear racial and gay slurs.
Walking into 22 Jump Street, I had a flash of hope for this pic.
Well, after directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller unleashed the original 21 Jump Street—a foul-mouthed, low-humor meta comedy that surprised everyone by somehow becoming a 2012 hit—they went on to create The LEGO Movie. No kidding! And the idea that somehow that fun and clever animated frolic may have sent its two directors prospecting for a new vein of comedic gold in this sequel somehow caught my fancy. Maybe, just maybe, I thought, they’ve found a fresh and witty perspective that will redefine the Jump Street brand.
So was I being stupid or just naive?
Even the movie’s most ardent supporters tend to call this newest Jump Street a “rehashed gagfest” and a “play-it-safe sequel.” I, on the other hand, have to call it a noxious and incredibly simpleminded insult to our intelligence. Its creators and scriptwriters haven’t stretched out a hand reaching for redefinition, but instead the “print” button on their photocopier.
Watching this self-referential tripe has motivated me, however, to reach for a suitable definition or two:
Soft-headed [ˈsäft-¦hedə̇d] adjective – foolish; stupid; feeble-minded.
Inane [əˈnān] adjective – lacking sense, significance, or ideas; silly; empty; void.
Tedious [ˈtēdēəs] adjective – tiresome by reason of length, slowness, or dullness; boring.
Shoddy [ˈshädē] adjective – of poor quality or inferior workmanship; pretentious vulgarity.
22 Jump Street [ˈtwentē-ˈtü ˈjəmp ˈstrēt] title – cinematic offal that’s incredibly inane, tedious and foul; a dimwitted waste of time and mocker of morality that makes Dumb and Dumber look like a product of high art.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.