Wednesday, June 18, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: "22 Jump Street"

22 Jump Street

Q: How can you tell 
when a critic or an iTeen 
is totally clueless?

A: When they're blathering 
about how this blockbuster 
is even remotely funny
or entertaining.

This was less painful than 
enduring 22 Jump Street.
In the spring of 1983, I was a 20-year-old with two impacted wisdom teeth. I was working full-time, but I had  no medical insurance. As a result, I managed to scrape up the necessary scratch to finance the surgery, yet I couldn't afford the "good" drugs. Hence, local anesthesia was my only viable option. Although much of the procedure-related pain was deadened (to an extent), I was completely awake the entire time. For nearly half an hour, I could hear and feel my jaw cracking and breaking — with the oral surgeon literally standing on my lap, with his one knee digging into my chest as he battled to extract the two teeth. At one point, he became so frustrated that he had to stop and take a break — at which time, I may or may not have even heard him drop an F-bomb. It was horrible. The ensuing week-long recovery process was even worse. For days, I drifted in and out — occasionally regaining consciousness just long enough to vomit from the pain meds and to clean up the freshest pools of blood from the bed sheets and pillow cases that continued to gush from my head. As of last night, this tale from 30 years ago now recounts the second most traumatic experience of my life.

Hill and Tatum recite shallow dialogue and
deliver flatline performances in 22 Jump Street
Moviegoers venturing out to the air-conditioned comfort of their local multi-plex, seeking a smart and snappy summertime comedy might want to think twice before plunking down $8.50 to see the new Jonah Hill / Channing Tatum blockbuster, 22 Jump Street. In fact, despite the seemingly unanimous "oohing" and "cooing" from savvy film critics, the sequel to 2012's 21 Jump Street is an epic fail.

But in terms of "supply and demand," the movie does succeed in delivering what today's sophisticated iGeneration craves — non-stop F-bombs, showering a barrage of graphic sex acts, drug use, unabashed foolishness and blasphemy — all splattered against a Skittles-flavored, pro-gay message. Taste the "Rainbow," indeed.

$50 says that Ice Cube is the only one in this shot
who ever has actually handled a real firearm.
Typically speaking, when it comes to comedies, the audience laughs at the movie. However, in the case of 22 Jump Street, it's the other way around. The film's dialogue actually seems to mock ticket buyers for paying to see another disastrous sequel that is touted as delivering everything the same way as the first time — just not as well. The storyline is as complex as any of the Hangover sequels, yet it's not nearly as compelling or funny. In fact, I'm not quite sure that there even was a storyline.

Played by Hill and Tatum, neither of the film's two primary leads are particularly funny, or very likeable. Amber Stevens as Maya Dickson is fetching indeed, but not even her stunning, Beyoncé-in-training sizzle factor could salvage her scenes. And while Jillian Bell  as Mercedes is the movie's most compelling character, the Xerox of her Workaholics shtick failed to plug the gaping hole at the bottom of this "Titanic." As for Ice Cube, I love him — his work consistently makes me laugh. However, the one-dimensional, always-angry Captain Dickson is a considerably less engaging role. It's been reported that Kurt Russell's son, Wyatt Russell, turned down a Hunger Games gig in order to accept the role as Zook in 22 Jump Street. Hmm, I don't know, dude — it might be time to start looking for a new agent, bro. 

Amber Stevens as Maya.
Despite (or due to) its gratuitous trash-type content, 22 Jump Street grossed nearly 100 million smackers at the box office worldwide in its first few days of release. Oh well — keep lining those lambs up for the slaughter — the next showing begins at a theater near you in 45 minutes!

-Christopher Long
(June 2014)

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  1. It was a very funny movie that made me wholly faithful in another sequel. That's if they decide to go for this story again. Nice review Chris.

    1. Dan THE man!

      Once again, we disagree on another blockbuster -- but it's always great hearing from you.

      Don't be a stranger, my friend.

    2. I never saw the first one. The Deluise brothers, Holly Robinson, Johnny Depp and the rest were never going to be matched, so I didn't bother. Glad I didn't.