[dropcap letter="M"]uch of the police procedural lore of the original “21 Jump Street” TV show is full of jumping points for Johnny Depp to grow into his teen idol role. Something he hated. Yet from 1987 to 1991, with a total of 103 episodes, a generation of fans got hooked on the show and defined how young, undercover cops should behave in TV-landia: packing attitude, moodiness, and heat.

Among those fans were directors of the movie reboot Phil Lord and Chris Miller, as well as main stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, who sank their own money into the project for co-producer status. They did away with the urban gloom and twentysomething existential musing, kept the chapel, the undercover concept, and the basic premise of buddy cops as fish out of water and fried everything in an Americana mix of almost-slapstick comedy as well as mondo references to police bad-assery in pop culture from “Bad Boys” to “Lethal Weapon.”

The result was 2012’s “21 Jump Street.” And it was aptly full of guns, drugged giggles, and the occasional undercover goof up.

This made the directors something of a rare hit: in possession of crossover skills for a duo who had previously only made animated fare, albeit they WERE cool cartoons with “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and the bricky hit “The LEGO Movie.”

The first movie was a wolf whistle to the mid noughties and how hipsterism, as well as the designer drugs of the day, became influential enough to explode concurrently with the rise of geek culture and eventually filter down to teens and tweens – leaving our heroes in a world of reverse coolness.

With the success of Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Gordon Jenko (Channing Tatum) in busting the dealer-to-supplier ring of the H.F.S. (Holy F*cking Sh*t) drug, the Metropolitan City Police Department has infused the Jump Street program with new funds and a chance for Jenko and Schmidt to shine once more. This time they get to do it as college men at MC State University.

The Jump St program is now located across the street at 22 Jump Street, because the Koreans bought back their chapel at #21. They need to go undercover and locate the supplier of a drug known as "WHYPHY" (WiFi) that killed a student who was photographed buying it on campus.

Here are eight reasons to go back to college with Jenko and Schmidt, as they try to score with chicks, get silly with football, and avoid double strapping it.










With visual jokes that have become signature to the movie like Korean Jesus, double strapping, and other drollery set up like ticking time bombs, directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have become one of the most important directorial voices in today’s film comedy genre. Inadvertently so.

“The first movie was so innately, distinctively Chris and Phil,” said Channing Tatum. “The biggest thing for me was that the tone was different – it had a refreshing feel and a tone I’d never seen in a movie before. That’s why I was so happy that they wanted to come back and join us for the sequel--I knew they’d make the movie something special.”

For their part, Lord and Miller were not only excited by the chance to explore the themes of the relationship, but to play with the entire idea of making an action-comedy sequel.

To get a handle on how much things have changed since the directors’ college days, Lord and Miller visited a UCLA fraternity for research. As it turns out, no research was required. “It’s all the same today as it was when we were in college,” Miller concluded. “They rage and party and take terrible care of themselves.”

Though Schmidt and Jenko forged a successful undercover cop partnership in “21 Jump Street,” in many ways they have not changed at all. Schmidt remains neurotic and clingy; Jenko is still plagued by the doubt that he’s not smart enough to solve a case.

“What’s fun about doing this kind of a movie is you get to subvert the genre,” said Lord. “We have a cool car chase--but we’ve also got [Jonah Hill's] Schmidt behind the wheel and he doesn’t know how to drive.”



 







Returning to the role of Captain Dickson is rapper Ice Cube, who plays angry, black, and police Captain to the nines; which just means he really didn’t need to do much acting, simply shave off a few gloom points from his Triple X persona and dial back the N.W.A. fist pumping.

Now that the MCPD have given Dicskon a lot of funds for a new office across the street, and the operatives have cool new gadgets and hi-techery for them to play with, you’d think the good Captain will be more amiable this time around. Hell, no.

“We see him in a lot of different lights,” Cube explained. “He’s a little different with everybody, but he's still mean, nasty and angry. Even his wife is mean and nasty.”

“He was my childhood hero,” says Hill. “When we worked on the first one, the first thing we wrote down was that Ice Cube--the guy who wrote ‘F— Tha Police’--should play the police captain. It’s a true childhood dream to be able to hang out with him.”

Cube relishes the role. “I’m the meanest, nastiest captain of them all,” says Ice Cube. “He hates everybody equally. You’ve seen nasty ‘Angry Black Captains’--I want to be the top notch.”

And it’s not ironic at all that this is the man who penned the popular, massively feel-good hit “F*ck Tha Police.”

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22 Jump Street Movie Clip - WHYPHY the new drug by boxofficeinternational

The new drug that’s been making the rounds in the college is called WhyPhy (WiFi) and is a mix of Adderall, cocaine, “and God knows what else!” says Capt Dickson.

After a brief chase Schmidt and Jenko fail in the pursuit of a group of dealers led by Ghost (Peter Stormare). So, Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman) puts the duo back on the program to work for Captain Dickson (Ice Cube).

At MC State, Jenko quickly makes friends with a pair of football jocks named Zook (Wyatt Russell) and Rooster (Jimmy Tatro), the latter is a prime suspect of the investigation because of his tattoo. Jenko starts attending parties with the jocks who do not take kindly to the nerdy, unathletic Schmidt. Meanwhile, Schmidt gets the attention of an art student, Maya (Amber Stevens), by feigning an interest in slam poetry.

Soon, the perils of WhyPhy become not only a danger to the school, but to our undercover heroes’ relationship, too.



 







Soon revealed as a pivotal character in the movie, we first meet Amber Stevens as Maya, the slam poetry-attending hottie who catches the eye of geeky Schmidt. Part-Caucasian, part-African-American, part-Comanche, and all legs that go forever, Stevens herself is best known for her role as Ashleigh Howard in the TV series “Greek.” But we present the short film “The Distance Between” as further testament to her allure.
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Twice nominated for an Academy Award, Jonah Hill has gone far beyond mere comedy roles, breaking away from the geek pack of Seth Rogen and Jay Baruschel into critical acclaim territory. Hello “Moneyball” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Still, he claims that comedy is his bread and butter, and we can see how much his comedic timing informs this movie , especially in the way he deadpans delivery in just the right way and the right place.

“My character, Schmidt, Channing's Jenko, are an odd couple,” said Hill. “They got together because they’re partners, but they really worked well together because they brought different things to the table. College is about finding out who you are. For example, Schmidt has really defined himself by this partnership with Jenko. In college, he’s struggling to know who he is.”

With the sequel, the filmmakers take the relationship to the next level. If the first film was about forming a relationship, the new film is about what it takes to make a relationship last.

“We got inspired by the idea that Jenko and Schmidt are each other’s ‘hometown honey’ – but they go to college, and the world is opened up to them,” says Lord. “They experience new things and start to wonder whether they’re with the right person or not. For those of us who went to college and had friends who went through that, it seemed honest and true.”




 







Is there any more proof that Channing Tatum is the Renaissance man that Hollywood needs right now?

From popcorn action like “G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra” and “White House Down,” to dramatic titles like “The Vow” and the eye candy stripper manishness of “Magic Mike” Tatum has done much to elevate his status, but he also surprised everyone that he could make people laugh in the first Jump Street movie.

Tatum’s jock-on-a-dumb-streak but with good cop ambitions is the Yang to Jonah Hill’s Schmidt, often giving us the sheer physicality that this cop movie requires. After all, the two still need to apprehend drug dealers even if Jenko’s head is a few brain cells short of a full protein shake.

In the first film, as the characters went back to high school, their expectations were turned around--the nerdy Schmidt was now in the popular crowd, and Jenko was on the outside. In this sequel, Jenko meets a kindred spirit on the athletic team, and Schmidt infiltrates the bohemian art major scene, they begin to question their partnership. Jenko, has found somebody with a few more of his shared interests in fellow football player Zook (Wyatt Russell). Before long, the bromance that seemed made in heaven is in trouble.

“I’d never been in a comedy before,” says Tatum. “I learned to trust the process--I mean, Jonah is so good, he can throw out four or five different ways of saying a line, one right after another. I trust him, and [directors] Chris and Phil--I’m among friends. If they’re laughing, you know it’s funny.”

Fact: Tatum has a real history with football. Before he became an actor, Tatum had a brief college football career.

“I had a really good school in the SEC that was ready to give me a full ride--until they saw my transcripts,” said Tatum. “My coach came up to me and said, ‘They just don’t think you can do the work.’ I ended up going to a small school in West Virginia, played for a year, and it wasn’t what I wanted to do. So I came home and wrapped it up.”




 







The biggest set piece here is the climax, which takes place in the fictional town of Puerto, Mexico albeit filmed in Puerto Rico, with the beach party filmed on the sand as hundreds of extras danced to the beats of the world-renowned DJ Diplo. Still, fans of 90s cop movies will appreciate the visual grandness of the tone here.

“We got an installation of a stage and graphics, hundreds of screaming students in states of undress, filling the beach with red cups and other vices, spread out all over the beach. It was quite a sight,” said production designer Steve Saklad.

One of the hallmarks of the first “Jump Street” was the action--all of which was rooted in story, character, and comedy. In planning the sequel, the filmmakers took the same approach, even as they upped the ante. “It’s a joke that sequels have to be bigger and crazier, but then we started filming we realized it’s actually true,” says Lord. Still, the bigger and crazier action had to rise out of the characters and their relationship. “We tried to have the moment within that action piece be a great comedic moment. If there is not a joke, it doesn’t work in this movie.”



 







“I think we should investigate other people” is the defining moment of this movie, and though that may be a tad bit of a spoiler, you really need the contextual scene for the comedy and the emo-ness of it to sink in.

Throughout the movie’s prickly and uneven narrative, it’s really the chemistry between Tatum and Hill that keeps us watching, even though this kind of plot is cut and dried and you can see the denoument coming a mile away, like a getaway car on its last legs.

“We came up with the idea of the ‘seven year itch,’” said producer Neal H. Moritz. “In the first film, they didn’t like each other, but came to be great friends and partners; now, their relationship has become complacent--like a marriage. That became the spine of our story.”

Schmidt and Jenko are “like Bogart and Bacall,” said director Phil Lord.

“They had this amazing natural chemistry,” Miller added. “They’re very different, but they really respect and admire each other. They make a great yin-yang pair.”

If the first film was about forming a relationship, the new film is about what it takes to make a relationship last. And in a buddy cop movie, what happens when the core of that bromance is questioned, and when the fabric of it inevitably frays and tears? Sounds a lot like college to me.
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Distributed by Columbia Pictures, "22 Jump Street" has been rated R-13, and opens in Philippine theaters on June 18. {Post your thoughts in the Comments Section.


Karl R. De Mesa

Karl R. De Mesa is the author of the books of horror fiction "Damaged People" and "News of the Shaman." He's also a journalist and editor. His latest book is "Report from the Abyss," a collection of non-fiction. He plays guitar for the drone metal band Gonzo Army.

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