Put me down as a fan of Jonah Hill. He has evolved from the “funny fat kid” in supporting roles in teenage films to becoming one of the brightest young character actors in today’s cinema. He has managed to perfectly balance comedy with prestige drama, and never seem out of place. Hill is a very talented actor, and a gifted comedian, as shown in The Wolf of Wall Street. However, in 22 Jump Street, he shows the exact same dedication and love of the craft of acting.
Hill made a very odd decision to take the overly dramatic and painfully 1980s crime show 21 Jump Street and turn it into a comedy. That film succeeded and became one of the funniest films of the last few years. How could Jonah Hill top that? Yes, by nabbing a second Academy Award nomination for a Scorsese film and making a sequel to his highly successful comedy. That turned out to be one of the very rare cases of the sequel being better than the original, and what we got was a hilarious and outrageous comedy.
Hill was incredibly funny, but it turned out that he was to go against his previous roles and actually played the straight-man – serious, precise and the foil of Channing Tatum, who actually transcends every other expectation that we have of him and actually delivers a very funny performance. All of Tatum’s lines are strangely hilarious – it is most likely due to the great script combined with Tatum’s own natural comedic gift. Could he be a convincing sole lead of a comedy film? I doubt it. Could he sell out Madison Square Garden for a stand-up comedy show? Definitely, but people wouldn’t really expect him to be funny, would they? But paired with Jonah Hill, they can bounce off each other and they make a great comedy team, much like Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy and maybe even Matthau and Lemmon. In their third film together (the other being 21 Jump Street and brief cameos in The Lego Movie), they prove that they are a very funny and brilliant comedy double act, and while we don’t hope for these two to be in every film together for the rest of their lives, I sincerely hope we get them together every now and then, because as individuals, they are talented and very funny, but together, they are pure comedy gold.
This is the second film this year for Chris Miller and Phil Lord, the other being the remarkable The Lego Movie. I wonder if we are potentially looking at the next kings of comedy – the double directing act that makes some very funny films that become iconic. The 1980s saw Zucker, Zucker and Abrahams, but they burned out pretty quickly when their parody schtick got old. The 1990s saw The Farrelly Brothers make the very funny There’s Something About Mary and Dumb and Dumber, however they never realized that they weren’t in the year 1998 anymore, and gross-out humor with hardly any intelligence was not that popular anymore. They continue to make films today. (If you can call The Three Stooges a film). Why I think (and hope) that Lord and Miller will succeed is because they have directed four feature films – two of them being critically acclaimed children’s films, and the other being the Jump Street films. This, to me at least, shows some great creativity and diversity, and while they did not direct the sequel to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (which got mediocre reviews) and are not set to direct the sequel to The Lego Movie, time can only tell what’s next for the duo. Hopefully their careers can emulate that of another great directing team (The Coen Brothers) and not burn out.
Overall, 22 Jump Street is funny and has a great story. Its a little long and could have been cut down a little and tightened up, but otherwise, it is a really funny and endearing film that may not be one of the most groundbreaking films ever, but it is very fun and a worthwhile watch.