A lot or a little?
Parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this sequel to 2012's hit 21 Jump Street is nearly as hilarious -- and easily as crass. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill return as undercover cops Schmidt and Jenko; their bromance is one of the franchise's main selling points, and they keep it going here. Expect tons of lewd and crude jokes about sex, college, work, and the like (some jokes about a strong friendship between two guys have a homophobic subtext that comes off as overly tasteless/uncomfortable instead of funny). There isn't much nudity, but couples are seen in their underwear, presumably post hook-up; co-eds converge on a spring break beach community in skimpy bathing suits; and one scene shows a man pretending to perform a sex act on another. There's also action movie-style violence, from gun fights and hand-to-hand combat to car chases and explosions, but mostly portrayed in a cartoonish fashion and is played for laughs. Prepare for loads of swearing -- including "s--t," "bitch," and many variations on "f--k" -- and some underage drinking at college parties. As in the first one, the plot has a drug-related focus (the guys are investigating a new recreational drug that killed a college student).
What's the story?
Hapless-but-hilarious detectives Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) are back as partners on the crime beat. This time, they're taking their dubious undercover police work to college, where a new drug, dubbed WHYPHY (as in "work hard, yes, play hard, yes"), has taken the life of one co-ed. The captain (Ice Cube) wants them on the case, so off to the dorms they go. But Jenko's budding bro-ship with a football teammate, Zook (Wyatt Russell), who's also the head of a frat that wants Jenko to join them, is icing out Schmidt.
Is it any good?
Sequels rarely trump originals, especially when the first movies are as laugh-out-loud funny as 21 Jump Street was -- and 22 JUMP STREET is no exception to the rule. Though it's funny enough, especially when in massive "meta" mode -- one brilliant bit has characters commenting on everything from set design to the wastefulness of having the captain wear $800 sneakers that won't even be seen in the frame -- its comedic punches don't have the same power as its predecessor.
For starters, there are the jokes that border on homophobia. Ostensibly, the movie has Jenko gaining new insight into his own use of slur words, and yet his friendship with Zook is mined endlessly (and sometimes clunkily) for homoerotic jokes. Still, 22 Jump Street continues to successfully explore the complexities of male friendships (Tatum and Hill should bottle their chemistry). And the wild-and-wacky, anything-goes vibe that gifted the first film with such zest does run through this sequel, too, especially as Jenko and Schmidt navigate a new world order of earnest-but-crazy college professors, manic dorm-mates (shout-out to the Yang brothers, played with absolute hilarity by the Lucas twins), and dating confusion. But as one character jokes in the film, follow-ups are never as good as the first time. When the best joke turns out to be the film's closing credits (which take closing credits to another level), you know that lightning may have struck close by, but not in exactly the same spot.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fact that, while 22 Jump Street has gun fights, they're played with loads of machismo and humor. Does that diminish the grittiness of the violence? Or its impact?
One one hand, the movie has a subplot about one character discovering the destructiveness of certain slur words, and yet these moments are played for laughs. Is that effective -- or even appropriate?
What does 22 Jump Street have in common with other buddy comedies? How is it better or worse?
- In theaters: June 13, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: November 18, 2014
- Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube
- Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
- Studio: Columbia Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 112 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language throughout, sexual content, drug material, brief nudity and some violence
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