The difficulty of producing a non-terrible follow-up to 2012's 21 Jump Street is very much acknowledged in Channing and Jonah's latest flick, and they're definitely in on the joke!
And while critics across the board seem to love the guys' bromance and onscreen chemistry, film reviewers are split as to whether 22 Jump Street is fresh enough to be worth a trip to the theater. USA Today's Claudia Puig, for example, praises Channing and Jonah as "deft physical comedians with spot-on timing," and while she finds 22 to be "an undeniably zany re-boot," she finds "the surprising freshness of its predecessor is lacking..."
Slate's Dana Stevens also appreciates the "comic chemistry that plays to both their [Channing and Jonah] strengths," but she questions the buddy theme, asking, "Can the bromance survive without bromophobia?" She points out that the "straight male buddy comedy...has long depended on Friends-style "hey, we're not gay jokes,' the kind that poke fun at male heterosexual insecurity, while also cordoning off same-sex love as an impossibility so remote as to be comical." (Ironically enough, Jonah issued a series of heartfelt apologies after he was caught on camera uttering a gay slur at a paparazzo.)
Others, though, didn't take 22 Jump Street quite so seriously. Forbes' Mark Hughes calls the flick "a hilarious, entertaining mix of irreverent humor and powerful chemistry between its two leads." The sequel "takes what worked in the first film and duplicates it, but in a way that's at once self-aware to the point of milking lots of laughs from the repeat elements, yet actually does find an entirely different spin on that material, while introducing plenty of new bits as well," he writes.
"Bottom line is," the Forbes critic concludes, "if you liked or loved the first film, you're probably going to like this one and might even love it."
There are some, though, like Time's Richard Corliss, who see no merit to the film. "It is their peculiar triumph that they not only beat a dead horse but got it on its legs and entered it in the Belmont Stakes," he writes. "Our minority observation: the favorite got flogged too many times and finished out of the money."
"The problem is," he adds, "that nearly two hours of rationalizing repetition, even by winking at it, can get wearying."
Could two hours of Channing ever really be wearying? You can be the judge of that. In any case, 22 Jump Street hits theaters this Friday!