Parodies can be generic too

22 Jump street

I could deal with some WHYPHY. Four hours (FOUR HOURS) of extreme focus followed by a killer high, no indication of a chemical dependency and the only person who died fell off a roof? Not all drugs are bad, kids. Photo courtesy Columbia Pictures.

22 Jump Street is just like 21 Jump Street. And it isn’t. And they make a lot of jokes about how it’s going to be just like 21 Jump Streetand then subvert those jokes. Sometimes. Kind of.

The movie starts by fulfilling the first one’s promise — sending Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) to college. Just like the first one, they immediately delve to the level of their cover, adopting the basest possible stereotypes. The duo try to find the supplier for a new drug called WHYPHY (work hard, play hard).

This is a franchise of parodies that don’t break free of the genre they’re parodying. 21 Jump Street, a big-budget remake,went out of its way to make fun of Hollywood for all the big-budget remakes it’s been producing. 22 Jump Street, a big-budget sequel, goes even further out of its way to mock sequel conventions.

This film’s parody is thorough. Several gags refer to the film’s inflated budget, though it only cost $10 million more than its predecessor. The entire plot is built around the same methods not working twice.

Sequel parody gags almost overtake the college and buddy-cop conventions the film adheres to, but not quite. The movie stays well within the bounds of the conventions it’s making fun of. This makes it accessible to a wide audience, but also makes it smell an awful lot like the producers were scared to take a real risk.

It’s like watching a baby denounce breasts between mouthfuls of milk. The film panders toward viewers who want to see something new and different, but doesn’t actually give them anything new or different.

In a simple question of yes or no, 22 Jump Streetgets a yes, but only because patrons would be satisfied with a run-of-the-mill action comedy with college aesthetics. Fully committed actors (Ice Cube and Nick Offerman moreso than Tatum and Hill) and raunchy regular gags overpower the parody jokes, which get clunky and ring hollow by the film’s end. At this point, parody humor is as tried and droll as the things it targets.

Joshua Knopp is a formerly professional film critic, licensed massage therapist, journalism and film student at the University of North Texas and a senior staff writer for the NT Daily. The Arctic Monkeys have a song that invites the listener to “call when you’ve had a few” and another song titled “Why do you only ever call me when you’re high?” They seem conflicted.  For questions, rebuttals and further guidance about cinema, you can reach him at At this point, I’d like to remind you that you shouldn’t actually go to movies and form your own opinions. That’s what I’m here for.

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