You're pretty much going to have to see 22 Jump Street twice just to catch all the jokes that the roars of laughter cause you miss.
No kidding, when this buddy cop parody hits its sweet spots — bromance gags carried to hilarious extremes by Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum; too-dumb-to-be-a-cop riffs by Tatum; and a couple of vintage, sneering rants by Ice Cube — 22, the sequel to 2012's 21 Jump Street, becomes a "see it again on Netflix when I can hear it all" experience.
This comedy, "exactly the same" as the first film (a running gag), produces the biggest, loudest laughs of any movie this summer.
Undercover cops Jenko (Tatum) and Schmidt (Hill) are sent to M.C. State University to track down a new designer drug that college kids are using to help them focus.
They try to blend in by doing slam poetry, pledging a fraternity, attending classes that are out of their dim-witted depth, hitting parties and asking around about the drug and a coed who died because of something she knew about it.
But they're not fooling anybody. "He's like a 30-year-old eighth-grader," one says.
The filmmakers and the cast mock the idea of a sequel and get away with doing exactly what they're mocking, even if "it's always worse the second time around."
Ice Cube, making the most of just a few scenes as Captain Dickson, lands more laughs with a scowl or three than he has in his past five pictures
Tatum and Hill take their characters' relationship to the next level of bromance, toying with the idea of "an open ... investigation," learning from their human sexuality class how inappropriate each can be.
"Did you know I used homophobic slurs in high school?"
"Yes, aimed at me."
Pretty funny line coming from Hill, who just had to apologize for calling a paparazzo a homophobic slur. There are other coincidences — jokes about Maya Angelou and Tracy Morgan — that give the comedy an eerie currency.
Hill scores with an epic girlfight and a blast of slam poetry. Tatum is comically convincing as a walk-on superstar tight end for the football team and a parkour-loving jock who climbs walls and finds a new BFF in a quarterback (Wyatt Russell) who is an Owen Wilson lookalike.
A pack of credited writers, and the co-directors of the first film, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, those Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs guys, conjure good, quick-footed and foul-mouthed fun. It goes on way too long, peaks too early and sputters before rallying with a frothy finale and a closing credits gag that kills but also goes on too long.
That doesn't much matter. Hill and Tatum are the unlikeliest of big-screen odd couples, a happy-goofy one that seems headed for a long and fruitful relationship, homoerotic or not.
You're still going to need to see 22 Jump Street twice to get all the sight gags, punchlines and pratfalls that this "exactly the same" sequel serves up.