Stephen David Miller

Startup cofounder, AI researcher, podcaster, person, etc.

Review: 22 Jump Street

Whether it’s a story about Legos, a kids’ film which is almost entirely devoted to food puns, or a comic reboot of a show no one in the target demo remembers, Phil Lord and Chris Miller are masters at making surprisingly solid films out of unlikely premises. No one knows what turned the least anticipated remake since Starsky and Hutch into the massive sleeper hit that 21 Jump Street was. But at least that one had underdog charm going for it. Like the creators happily acknowledge, the problem of doing it a second time is daunting.

If comedy is all about subverting expectations, how do you make a highly-anticipated comedy sequel? The same way you write a compelling story about an orchid thief, or a non-cliched comedy about community college cliches: let the audience in on the contradiction. 22 Jump Street is no Kaufman movie, but it also elevates its self-reference above a throwaway gimmick (take notes, Muppets 2); it makes a whole story hinge on it, and makes that story funny. Like the movie before it, it’s witty, self-assured, and packed with jokes — not “loose” Apatow riffs, but actual observations and wordplay — which are winking enough to be fun even when they don’t perfectly land. It’s a smart genre parody, a genuinely fun action movie, and a bromance which somehow doesn’t elicit the eye-rolls that word deserves. If the post-credits scenes are any indication, {++JumpStreetAddress; StephensWallet-=$20;} is bound to keep happening. I can’t wait.

See my review on Letterboxd