22 Jump Street: A bromance not as good as the first

2 out of 4 stars

Remember “21 Jump Street?”

You know, the laugh-out-loud, bromance in which Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill turned back the clock and brought the 1980s undercover teenager police show that introduced us to Johnny Depp from the TV to the big screen.

Now, take that movie and slightly alter the plot, from Tatum (Greg Jenko) and Hill (Morton Schmidt) trying to break up a high school drug ring to the duo attempting to do the same thing on a college campus and what do you get? “22 Jump Street.”

Jonah Hill;Channing Tatum
Jonah Hill, left, and Channing Tatum in Columbia Pictures’ “22 Jump Street.”

But you know what’s missing in “22 Jump Street”? Everything that made its predecessor great.

“22 Jump Street” uses the same formula that established “21 Jump Street” as one of Hollywood’s biggest surprises in 2012, when it made $201 million at the box office, more than four times its budget.

So of course “22 Jump Street” was coming – all directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller did was close the church that housed the 21 Jump Street squad and moved it to the shuttered Vietnamese church across the street, hence the change in address. Too bad they forget to pack the best jokes.

But here’s the biggest problem: You know when you make a copy of an original and then make a copy of a copy and keep going? You lose the details, which were what made “21 Jump Street” so hysterical. The chemistry between Hill and Tatum was only surpassed by their witty dialogue that had the jokes hitting the audience in combinations

Tell a great joke once and fills the theater with laughter. Tell essentially the same joke a second time and you get chuckles. But when you keep hearing jokes that revolve around homosexuality, private parts and sex, you just want to tell Tatum that you already saw “Magic Mike.”

Ice Cube's role as Capt. Dickson steals the show in "22 Jump Street." 9Courtesy of Sony Entertainment)
Ice Cube’s role as Capt. Dickson steals the show in “22 Jump Street.” (Courtesy of Sony Entertainment)

And you tell Hill the deadpan humor that’s made him famous can’t fill a nearly two-hour movie.

It’s not entirely their fault. “21 Jump Street” set the bar so high that writers Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel and Rodney Rothman couldn’t clear it two years later.

Sure, there a few funny scenes in “22 Jump Street,” but they are largely dominated by Ice Cube as Capt. Dickson – Schimdt and Jenko’s boss who has never met a phrase that couldn’t use the f-word.

Tatum and Hill play their roles well, with Tatum as the muscular, unintelligent yet popular jock and Hill as the pudgy, smart yet unpopular student. But half the movie is spent with Tatum and Hill interacting like they are boyfriends, not police officers trying to find who’s behind the spread of a deadly mix of Ecstasy and Adderall called WHYPHY.

One or two gay-panic punchlines are funny, but not one every five minutes. There comes a point you just want the two to start making out instead of talking about their feelings and how they need their time away from each other.

I was just waiting for Hill to go all Lloyd Dobler in “Say Anything” and standout Tatum’s dorm and blast “In Your Eyes.”

But not even that would have saved this film.