22 Jump Street

22jumpsteet

 

DIR: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller • WRI: Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel, Rodney Rothman • PRO: Jonah Hill, Neal H. Moritz, Channing Tatum  • ED: Keith Brachmann, David Rennie  • DOP: Barry Peterson • DES: Steve Saklad • MUS: Mark Mothersbaugh • CAST: Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill

Just how self-aware is too self-aware?

Take any old film review as an example – perhaps that of 22 Jump Street, the sequel to 2012’s surprise critical success 21 Jump Street, which saw inept police officers Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) go undercover as teenagers in order to infiltrate a high-school drug ring with genuinely hilarious results.

In writing such a review, anyone might throw their hands up in despair, reasoning that each and every serious journalistic word-play concerning the film’s premise (see: Jonah “Over-The” Hill and Channing “Age-um” Tatum) has surely already been played out to their natural conclusion the first time around, and as such cannot be recycled into a new review. Unless, of course, said reviewer was enterprising enough to package those same old jokes as a form of meta-humour, and slip them past audiences with a wink, a nudge and an overwrought introductory paragraph such as, why, this one. The same reviewer might indeed ask you to bear with him, as this awkward metaphor pays off later.

In a continuation of the same self-satire championed by the likes of Arrested Development and Community but rather fumbled by this reviewer above, 22 Jump Street isn’t long in establishing that it is well aware of its status as a sequel. “Just do the same thing,” the duo’s police commissioner reasons. “Do the same thing, and everybody’s happy.”

Indeed, Jump Street’s latest case sees the two faced with a carbon copy task of last time, simply bigger – to infiltrate a group of college drug dealers and identify their supplier, with much of the same shenanigans ensuing along the way. With an inflated budget, their resources are greater, the guns bigger, the cars faster, Ice Cube’s angry police captain even angrier.

Hill and Tatum are on form again with a screen chemistry that is one part brotherly machismo to nine parts desperate co-dependence; Tatum, in particular, stretching comic muscles that leave those of his petty mortal flesh in the dust. The script, by turns, thumbs its nose and rolls its eyes at all the typical conventions expected of blockbuster sequels and, while it often works, therein also lies the rub. To hark back to our reviewer’s awkward opening paragraphs, while fun, Jump Street’s pointed awareness of the failure to deliver anything fresh does little to enliven reheated gags and plot points, and the constant navel-gazing ultimately speaks of a desire to play it safe as much as poke fun.

As a sequel, 22 Jump Street has developed along much the same lines as its aging undercover protagonists – though once lean the writing inclines to flab and quick wits begin to wander, a dose of boyish charm and bountiful goodwill is still enough to save it – if not quite enough to recapture the good old days.

Fans of the first will love it, and sticking it through to the end is recommended for all.

Ruairí Moore

 

16 (See IFCO for details)
111 mins

22 Jump Street is released on 6th June 2014

22 Jump Street – Official Website

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Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

DIR/WRI: Phil Lord, Chris Miller • PRO Pam Marsden • DES: Justin Thompson • CAST: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Bruce Campbell, Mr. T

With Pixar’s Up and Toy Story’s re-release in 3D on the horizon, I greeted the prospect of Cloudy with low expectations. Ninety minutes later I left the cinema beaming after having seen the first truly great 3D film.

Cloudy has little in the way of credentials; it is produced by Sony, who are still new to the genre of animation, and it is written and directed by newcomers Phil Lord and Chris Miller. However, Cloudy emerges as a consistently hilarious and enjoyable family film for September. (Who releases family films in September?) I quickly overcame my scepticism and thoroughly enjoyed Cloudy, a treat of jelly castle proportions. The humour is delightful and plentiful, verbally and visually entertaining the entire family. Of particular note to this reviewer were the copious amount of puns (the highest form of humour don’t you know), but if these trifles aren’t to your taste there is still plenty to tickle your fancy.

The film’s premise is simple enough – eccentric inventor turns clouds into food – which leaves the bulk of its bite-size running time to pure entertainment, Transformers 2 it ain’t. The film is jam-packed with colour and makes the most of the vibrancy and depth possible with 3D Digital. Unlike other recent 3D efforts, Cloudy is saturated in primary colours and repeatedly tests the boundaries of the technology, showering its audiences in cheeseburgers, hot dogs and the odd rat-pigeon. While there is plenty to enjoy in this film on a normal cinema screen, it really warrants a visit to your local 3D merchant if you are lucky enough to have one.

Bill Hader (a Judd Apatow regular) heads a strong cast featuring Anna Faris, James Cann and, (uniting them for the first time, I believe) the cult favourites Bruce Campbell and Mr. T. Cloudy is also crammed with pearls of wisdom and is a cautionary tale of the folly of excess; just so that you don’t leave feeling that you’ve instilled any bad habits on your children. Who could resist the insight of ‘You can’t run away from your own feet.’?

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is one forecast which shouldn’t be overlooked. Whether you have the excuse of children to bring or just for your own pleasure, clouds never tasted so good.

Peter White
(See biog here)

Rated G (See IFCO website for details)
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is released on 18th September 2009

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs – Official Website

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