22 Jump Street

00:00 June 11, 2014
By: Fritz Esker
[Courtesy of Sony Pictures Releasing]

*** out of ****

Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are becoming experts at the meta movie (21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie) - films that seem like shameless cash grabs that charm viewers in part due to a disarming sense of self-awareness.22 Jump Street keeps their hit streak rolling.

That said, self-awareness alone isn't enough to sustain a movie.In fact, in lesser hands, endless winking at the audience can make a subpar movie excruciating (Snakeson a Plane is a prime example).But 22 Jump Street succeeds thanks to great chemistry between leads Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum and a script that, while not Chinatown, gives more thought to plot progression than your average Hollywood comedy.

You know the story - bumbling undercover cops Hill and Tatum are now sent to college to investigate a new drug ring.Tatum quickly becomes popular with the football team (led by Wyatt Russell) and Hill finds romance (with Amber Stevens) in the art clique.

Like the original, the gags can be hit and miss.But while 22's hits may not quite reach the highs of the original (although a sight gag involving an emoticon-filled text Hill receives from boss Ice Cube is one of the year's funniest moments), its misses aren't as cringeworthy, either.The 110-minute running time is a little long, but the laughs come often enough to keep viewers from getting too antsy.

Last but not least, New Orleanians will likely get a kick out of the film's diverse use of local locations, from the Milan Street Wharf to Tad Gormley Stadium to Tulane and Loyola to Lafreniere Park.Most New Orleans-set movies seem to gravitate to one neighborhood or type of neighborhood, but the Jump Street movies (despite being set in "Metro City") provide a pretty comprehensive tour of the New Orleans area.

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