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Review: 22 Jump Street - embrace its absurdity and leading pair's chemistry

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 December, 2014, 1:03pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 December, 2014, 1:03pm

22 Jump Street

Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube

Directors: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller

The movie reboot of the 21 Jump Street television series from the late 1980s is that rarest of beasts - studio executives turning something that was never really that good into something that is.

The series that first presented Johnny Depp to the world was briefly a hit but vanished after the conceit at its heart - young-looking older people solving juvenile crimes - proved limited in scope.

But there are no such concerns when you're only charged with filling two hours or so of screen time, rather than hour upon hour, week after week.

Pairing Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum was a piece of inspired casting, as was limiting the amount of focus on the more "bromantic" aspects of the plotline. Perhaps co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller realised that the appetite for the modern buddy genre had dried up after the likes of Seth Rogen had milked it for all it was worth.

For this sequel, the two lads who once posed as high schoolers are sent to a college to bust a drug ring that led to the death of a student. The fun is to be had firstly by the fact that Hill and Tatum look as equally unconvincing in college as they did in high school, while the constant self-referencing and mocking of the fact that they are basically covering the same ground make anything on show here impossible to take even remotely seriously.

Instead, give yourself over to the absurdity of it all and to the effortless chemistry that the leading pair share. Hill has been establishing his credentials as a more serious actor over the past few years, but his start was in comedy and he does it all with refreshing ease while Tatum is not above ridiculing his own public image as a jock who got lucky.

There's an underlying sense that these characters are a bit smarter than their bumbling and banter let on and the back-and-forth between the two leads as an unlikely pair of friends adds polish to what in lesser hands might threaten to become a repetitive bore.

Not great, but good enough to while away a winter evening.

Extras: making of featurette, commentary, deleted scenes