22 Jump Street: Movie Man Jackson

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“Ladies, nobody gave a s*** about the Jump Street reboot but you got lucky.”

What is the next step after successfully assimilating into high school, and stopping a drug outbreak? Doing the same thing in college. 22 Jump Street starts off exactly as pointed to at the end of its predecessor, in which Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) mentions that our heroes Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) are going to college for their next mission. Sounds cool, expect it is of the online variety.

It does not take long for this to change though. A new drug known as WHYPHY is threatening to run rampant on a nearby campus, forcing the tandem to go undercover again amidst younger people. Their partnership, once unbreakable, begins to show signs of fracture when college clearly seems to be more up Jenko’s alley. To infiltrate the dealers and find the supplier once more, they will have to be on the same page.

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Going to try and keep this relatively short and simple. 22 Jump Street is definitely more of the same. Following a similar setup to 21 Jump Street with only the mildest of plot tweaks and flip flops, it will not win any awards for originality. But is that important here? No, not at all!

Once again, and it is ad nauseam at this point, the film knows what it is. It’s a sequel that probably shouldn’t even exist must like the first, but it does. As Deputy Hardy (Nick Offerman) outlines within the confines of the film, the first assignment (movie) was successful, which means more money has to be poured into the next assignment (sequel) to make it bigger and more substantial. It may be a rehash, but this is how these things go.

It is this meta-ness and self-referential humor that this installment brings to its arsenal once again, poking fun at the absurdity of the premise, the existence of sequels, and even Hollywood itself. Eventually, this reminder that everyone is in on the joke does wear a bit thin after a while in my opinion, but it is a fabric of the franchise.

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Even with the referential humor which is pretty funny itself, 22 Jump Street works because it is just funny consistently from beginning to end, which is the first goal for any comedy. Sure, some laughs are bigger than others (and there are some big ones), but the mild laughs keep investment in the movie and keeps hold of attention. And it is not just the meta humor either. Tons of physical gags, verbal banter, and reactionary comedy work just as well, if not better.

The constant hilariousness can be attributed to three people: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, and Ice Cube. As a duo, Hill and Tatum as Schmidt and Jenko have something special in the way of chemistry, like two basketball players utilizing the pick and roll so effectively because they know where the other is almost always going to be. The movie does allow for the two to be separated at times, and it is during these times where both get to shine respectively in their given situations. Also, the movie delves more into their relationship and why it doesn’t always work, giving Jenko and Schmidt character aspects that the audience can relate to.

As a benefit to everyone, Ice Cube’s role is definitely larger in this sequel. He is back as the stereotypical angry black captain, spitting his profane insults and mean mugging faces to our favorite tandem, which is just as gut-busting as before. This time however, he must become more a part of the mission, for support reasons and personal reasons, the latter resulting in arguably the funniest moment in the entire film. The rest of the cast comes off as more miss than hit. Not to say that they are completely devoid of amusing moments, but they are more one-note, compared to the supporting characters of Dave Franco, Rob Riggle, and Brie Larson from the first.

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Though the premise is the same, it has been improved upon. Directors Christopher Miller & Phil Lord make sure that this sequel is tighter, mainly in its pacing and presentation. This movie never drags and moves along at a brisk pace. Additionally, the action sequences look like more attention was spent on them, and they too are spaced throughout as opposed to the last third of runtime, giving the movie a true comedy-action feel. Depending on how many times the trailer has been seen, it may make the events of the movie slightly predictable, so keep that in mind.

All in all though, 22 Jump Street is easily the best comedy of the year to this point simply because at the core it succeeds in making you laugh, and laugh a lot. Can’t ask for much more.

Grade: B+

Photo credits go to forbes.com, acesshowbiz.com, and movieplusnews.com.

Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson.

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Neighbors: Movie Man Jackson

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“You call the cops, you violate the Circle of Trust, Focker.”

Is it Neighbors or Bad Neighbours? Regardless, at least we know the presence of neighbors in some shape or form is evident. In this new film, Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are Mac and Kelly Radner, a married couple with a newborn in tow. Though uneventful, life is good. Mac has a solid job, Kelly is a stay at home mom, and the neighborhood they reside in is very conducive for the raising of a child.

All that changes when a college fraternity moves into the neighborhood. It would bad enough but possibly doable if they were houses down, but no. This frat is right next door to this couple, and this is not one of the polite business networking frats. Led by its legend-seeking president Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron), this organization majors in raging. An initial effort to exist in the same vicinity is made, but this effort doesn’t last long. There can be only one way this ends. Who will be forced to move first?

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I didn’t have high hopes for Neighbors, but a few takes here and there from some of my favorite reviewers upticked my expectations. After watching, I do not share the overwhelming love that others may, but by and large it works. While not a complete laugh riot, it is amusing enough as a whole.

The premise sounds familiar, but it really isn’t. There may be films that have moments and subplots of feuding neighbors, but none that base their entirety around it. For that alone, it was different. Even if some humor appeared forced, respect is given for straying away from the same old same old in a story sense.

And the story itself has got some heart to it. It is an unexpected look at two men who despite seemingly being at different points in life, are really similar. In short, the movie alludes to the fact that nothing lasts forever. Both have fear of the unknown and end up masking it in various ways, and Neighbors does a good job at examining what each man is afraid of. This is just a small part of the movie’s high production. It never looks cheap, and there is some nice looking editing and action shots, especially when the party elements are at a fever pitch. Pretty nice stuff for a raunch comedy.

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If only the humor was more prevalent. It is far from a comedic bore, but there are some stretches where nothing more than a slight chuckle was had. The movie is not a non-stop laugh fest, and not every comedy has to be. But with no humor to be had in certain scenes, some sections moved slower than others.

Pure conjecture, but the first half of the movie felt less humorous than the second. Makes sense somewhat; this half and mainly the first third is rather mundane in introducing us to these main characters. Still, things do not truly take off until the “bros before hoes” party. At this point on, the laughs were had consistently.

Oddly enough, the slapstick elememt in this is much more memorable than the dialogue. I say oddly because slapstick often invokes sentimemts of lazy effort (to me at least), but here it was funny! From a physical standpoint, there are many noteworthy scenes, known immediately when viewed. If only the dialogue matched the hilarity found in the gags. Not devoid of humor, but not laden with it either.

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Three main stars make up the bulk of Neighbors. At this point in his career, Seth Rogen is who he is, and that is not a bad thing. He plays the well-meaning, occasional pot smoking, lovable man-child that has been done by him before. He is generally funny and endearing if a bit too loud during various instances. His wife, played by Rose Byrne, has some solid material in this one. Generally I have never been a fan and even hated her in most of her roles, but she is tolerable here and gets many chances to shine.  Lastly, Mr. Zac Efron may be starting to find his way in comedy. He has some really good lines and reactions in multiple situations, and it should be intriguing to see where he goes from here.

Other bit players include Dave Franco as Efron’s right hand man, Ike Baronholtz as Rogen’s work buddy, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as a frat member. Franco has comedic talent, and also more of the poignant and reflective moments in the movie. Barinholtz may be a little too over the top, but not completely grating. It feels like CMP has been around for ages, yet he is my age. His career is still young, but these are his types of roles minus Fright Night and Kick-Ass. Nothing that hasn’t been seen before.

Neighbors may not be a top notch comedy, but it has genuine heart and enough humorous moments to recommend a view. It should serve as a nice change of pace amid the superhero films and monster movies already in theaters or scheduled to arrive shortly.

Grade: C+

Photo credits go to beyondhollywood.com, designtrend.com, & wallpaper series.com.

Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson.