Jenko and Schmidt are back for a sequel so self-aware it destroys any semblance of the warmth and charm that saved the first from the comedy doldrums. “It looks like a giant cube of ice!” Jonah Hill’s character exclaims as the two walk into their new-and-improved police headquarters and spot Ice Cube’s office.
In fact Ice Cube seems to be the only player truly in on the joke. He displays the pasty “Ice Cube scowl” throughout the entire film, abandoning anything remotely resembling a performance. Whether he’s just there for the money or acting that way is irrelevant. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are clearly showing up for the money. While the duo still have a charming chemistry it’s hard to root for them with every joke, set-piece, and one-liner dripping in this meta-attitude. It wears thin after 15 minutes and doesn’t let up. The film simply isn’t funny.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller playfully poked fun in The LEGO Movie but the overwhelming vibrancy of that picture only helped to solidify and heighten its universal, but relevant, themes. Here the directing duo attempts to cleverly satirize cash-grab sequels (the end credits montage depicts sequels numbering out to “40 Jump Street”). But they fail to hide the fact that 22 Jump Street is a cash-grab sequel ($329,000,000 box office) and they fail to make a movie that is clever – conceptually, thematically, or comedically.