Undercover police officers Schmidt and Jenko (Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum) ready themselves for the challenge of college in "22 Jump Street." The movie is a sequel to the comedic take on the 1980s TV show about cops posing as students.

Sony Pictures/courtesy

Undercover police officers Schmidt and Jenko (Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum) ready themselves for the challenge of college in "22 Jump Street." The movie is a sequel to the comedic take on the 1980s TV show about cops posing as students.

The Bock’s Office: ‘22 Jump Street’ keeps on shooting high

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There are few things worse in the film world than a sequel to a surprise hit that crushes the magic of the first of its kind. The makers of “22 Jump Street” seem to be so aware of this, they wrote it right into the screenplay.

If you go

“22 Jump Street,” rated R

Rating: 3 out of 4 stars

Running time: 112 minutes

Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Peter Stormare and Ice Cube

Now playing at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas.

Andy Bockelman

Andy Bockelman is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society, and his movie reviews appear in Explore Steamboat and the Craig Daily Press. Contact him at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

Find more columns by Bockelman here.

Crime-busting partners Morton Schmidt and Greg Jenko (Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum) have proven in the past that they could deliver for the Metro City police force, their success infiltrating a high school drug ring having earned them a little overdue respect. Unfortunately, that’s apparently all they can do, as is painfully obvious when their latest attempt to go undercover and sniff out a drug distributor (Peter Stormare) results in a colossal failure and humiliation for their superiors.

The two young cops are given only one option: head back to school, but this time, enrolling in the local college to track the source of yet another illicit substance.

The investigation quickly is put on hold as Schmidt and Jenko indulge just a bit too much in campus life, the former with a new girlfriend (Amber Stevens) and the latter reveling in the glory of his new fraternity house and fame on the football field, their separate activities threatening to not only expose them but also destroy their friendship.

Wait, didn’t all this more or less happen last time?

These boys haven’t changed a bit — neither a compliment nor an insult, just an observation — with Schmidt still a master of making a spectacle of himself without even trying, whether it’s his horrendous attempt at a barrio facade, being called out as a narc on the first day of classes or the biggest faux pas of all, dating your boss’s daughter.

And if you think Ice Cube is scary as an already unreasonable commanding officer, wait until you see how he reacts as a disgruntled dad.

Tatum is as memorable a moron as ever as pretty boy Jenko, who takes to college shockingly well — at least everything that doesn’t involve books, finding his soul mate in an equally empty-headed quarterback (Wyatt Russell), who may be the culprit they’ve been trying to apprehend.

No, no, no, a hardened criminal wouldn’t be as interested in pumping iron and daydreaming about Lamborghinis, would they? Dude …

Between Jenko’s lack of cognizance about pretty much everything around him and Schmidt having the physical prowess of a giant toddler, it’s a wonder the duo ever managed to earn their badges in the first place. But as their supervisor (Nick Offerman) seems to think, if you put two completely unqualified officers in a potentially dangerous scenario and keep throwing money at it, maybe it will work like it did the last time.

The script here doesn’t hint at parody, it flat-out screams it, with the meta-humor going full blast from the opening and the fourth wall practically demolished after about 15 minutes.

Following in the “so ridiculous it has to be funny” standard set by “21 Jump Street,” returning directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have a lot going on up on the screen, but their insistence at dissecting every facet of these characters — as well as the nature of sequels, particularly action sequels — is what’s most telling, most truthful and somehow most humorous.

As everyone on camera continues to remind us, this approach shouldn’t have worked so well two years ago, and the fact that it’s only gotten better is confounding, yet delightfully so with some great guest appearances, sharply done side jokes and bigger stakes for an audience that demands only the best.

After all, who needs prom when you’ve got spring break for a climactic finale?

“22 Jump Street” may just refer to a repurposed new address for our heroes’ headquarters, but when you’ve got something that works, keep raising the numbers as high as you want. The steam would have to run out sooner or later, but it would be almost worth it to see how far it could go.

To paraphrase Jenko, that would be our best nightmare.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @TheBocksOffice.

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