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The same, only funnier

Return of cop comedy's bawdy odd couple defies law of diminishing returns for sequels

Posted: 06/13/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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Jonah Hill, left, and Channing Tatum star in

GLEN WILSON / COLUMBIA PICTURES / MCT Enlarge Image

Jonah Hill, left, and Channing Tatum star in "22 Jump Street."

You're pretty much going to have to see 22 Jump Street twice, just to catch all the jokes the roars of laughter make you miss.

No kidding, when this buddy-cop parody hits its sweet spots -- bromance gags carried to hilarious extremes by Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, too-dumb-to-be-a-cop riffs by Tatum and a couple of vintage, sneering rants by Ice Cube -- 22, the sequel to 21, only "exactly the same" as the first film (a running gag), becomes a "see it again on Netflix when I can hear it all" experience.

This comedy produces the biggest, loudest laughs of any movie this summer.

Undercover cops Jenko (Tatum) and Schmidt (Hill) are sent off to M.C. State University to track down a new designer drug that college kids are using to help them focus.

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They try to blend in by doing slam poetry, pledging a frat, attending classes that are out of their dim-witted depth, hitting parties and asking around about the drug and this coed who died because of something she knew about it.

But they're not fooling anybody.

"He's like a 30-year-old eighth-grader!"

The filmmakers and the cast mock the idea of a sequel and get away with doing exactly what they're mocking, even if "it's always worse the second time around."

Ice Cube, making the most of just a few scenes as Capt. Dickson, lands more laughs with a scowl or three than he has in his last five pictures.

And Tatum and Hill take their characters' relationship to the next level of bromance, toying with the idea of "an open... investigation," learning from their human sexuality class how inappropriate each can be.

"Did you know I used homophobic slurs in high school?" Tatum asks.

"Yes, aimed at me," Hill replies.

Pretty funny line coming from Hill, who just had to apologize for referring to a paparazzo by a homophobic slur. There are other coincidences -- Maya Angelou and Tracy Morgan jokes -- that give the comedy an eerie currency.

Hill scores with an epic girl-fight and a blast of slam poetry. Tatum is comically convincing as a walk-on superstar tight end for the football team, a jock who climbs walls and finds a new BFF in an Owen Wilson-look-alike quarterback (Wyatt Russell).

A pack of credited writers -- and the co-directors of the first film, those Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs guys Phil Lord and Christopher Miller -- conjure up good, quick-footed and foul-mouthed fun. It goes on way too long, peaks too early and sputters before rallying with a frothy finale and a closing credits gag that kills, but also goes on too long.

That doesn't much matter. Hill and Tatum are the unlikeliest of big-screen odd couples, a happy-goofy one that seems headed for a long and fruitful relationship -- homoerotic or not. And you're still going to need to see this one twice to get all the sight gags, punchlines and pratfalls that this "exactly the same" sequel serves up.

-- McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 13, 2014 D1

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