AUTHOR: Mark Liebrecht
IDENTIFICATION: 22 Jump Street(Comedy), written by Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel, Rodney Rothman and Jonah Hill
Jenko and Schmidt go to college to find out who is selling a new drug on campus called WHYPHY, and test the strength of their partnership in the process.
22 Jump Street continues the buddy cop premise of 21 Jump Street, and even repeatedly makes fun of the fact that it’s a sequel, and that sequels generally don’t do as well as the original. This script lives up to its predecessor and may even exceed it. The storyline takes Jenko and Schmidt out of high school and into college where they find their partnership tested to the limit and follows a logical structure that doesn’t leave you questioning why anything is happening. The dialog is perfectly suited for these characters, and is incredibly funny, which is good since this is supposed to be a comedy. This script shows a lot of potential and deserves to be looked at further.
The movie opens with a recap of 21 Jump Street before leads to an undercover assignment where Jenko and Schmidt find themselves observing, and then getting into a gunfight and chase with a criminal named the Ghost and his crew of exotic animal smugglers. They lose the Ghost and his crew, and find themselves in Chief Hardy’s office where he tells them they need to do what they did the last time, only pretend to be college students instead of high school students. They get transferred to 22 Jump Street which is across the street from their headquarters in the previous film, where they get their orders that they’re going to be working undercover at a local college where they are going to bust the drug dealer who they think murdered a student who was on a drug called WHYPHY. On campus Jenko gets involved with the football team and frat, while Schmidt gets involved with an art student who turns out to be Captain Dickson’s daughter, neither of which know that yet, and ends up having several awkward interactions with her roommate. They have to turn to the villains from the previous film for advice on the case.
Jenko and Schmidt eat a bunch of WHYPHY laced food and use 4 hours of super focus to work on the case by breaking into the frat before they start tripping out. While their tripping out the frat kidnaps them and pledges them. Jenko continues with the initiation but Schmidt flunks feeling he doesn’t belong there, they essentially break up. Jenko sends more time with Zook while Schmidt stalks them via the cameras they installed while they were high on WHYPHY. Schmidt’s parents show up for the parent’s weekend where they meet his girlfriend, who happens to be Captain Dickson’s daughter. Schmidt is horrified and Dickson doesn’t take it well. Zook and Jenko bond over a tryout video for college recruiters, while Schmidt and his girlfriend bond over wine, while her roommate watches the entire time. They investigate the dead girl’s therapist’s office who gives them couple’s therapy. During the session Schmidt gets the epiphany that the dead girl was probably the dealer and not the buyer. When they suggest this to Dickson, he Jenko figures out that Schmit’s girlfriend is Dickson’s daughter and runs around telling everyone in the office that the captain unknowingly high fived Schmit for having sex with his daughter. This is resolved by Dixon using a taser on Schmit’s testicles.
They sneak into the victim’s dorm room where they find out the supplier is giving the dealers the drugs via hallowed out library books. Jenko goes to play football while Schmidt continues the case and goes to the library to catch the Ghost in the act of putting drugs in the books. They regroup at the library and end up in a car chase with a hummer and a golf cart. This results in them going their separate ways. Schmidt going back to regular police work, while Jenko stays in college on the football team. While in a restaurant they find out the therapist was arrested as the dealer, but Schmidt continues to investigate. Jenko tries to turn Zook into Schmidt. Jenko checks to see how Schmidt is doing and believes they should go to Mexico to solve the case, as they are sure the therapist was framed. They walk through the spring break party on the beach and see the drugs being handed out. They follow the dealers who find out the supplier is the Ghost’s daughter who also happens to be Schmidt’s girlfriend’s roommate. Jenko, Shmidt and all of Jump Street show up and chase the supplier, who also happened to kidnap Dickson. Schmidt takes a Lamborghini to go after the supplier, while Jenko chases the Ghost on foot. Schmidt catches up with the supplier who gets in a fist fight, while she keeps trying to kiss him. Jenko catches up with the Ghost who gets twin goons to fight for him. Dickson’s daughter hits the supplier with a chair and cuffs her, while Schmidt goes to help Jenko catch the Ghost. Jenko gets shot several times, yet still has the strength to jump off a roof and catch a helicopter in mid-air. Schmidt also manages to grab on as well. They blow up the helicopter over the ocean and walk away unscathed from the explosion. Schmit and Jenko reconcile. Dickson tells them for their next mission they’re going to medical school. The credits spoof on what the next dozen sequels could be.
The buddy cop premise continues in this follow up to 21 Jump Street. It’s a movie about two partners who have their friendship put to the limit, while constantly winking to the audience that this is a sequel and that it’s best to keep your expectations low so you’re amazed when they are exceeded.
The storyline itself was fantastic. It starts off with a recap of the first movie so anyone who never saw the original doesn’t spend the whole movie wondering what is going on. The first scene quickly lets you know what kind of movie you’re in for when a squid attacks Schmidt and they wind up in a gun fight which leads to a high speed chase that leaves the protagonists dangling from a beam. They run into familiar faces from the original movie while meeting new characters, and forming new relationships that test their partnership, and end up. One of the highlights that worked was Captain Dickson congratulating Schmidt on his hook up, only to later find out that it was his daughter that Schmidt slept with. It was one of the most perfect set ups I’ve seen in a comedy in ages, and worked perfectly here. The only parts that seem off are the over the top interactions between the cops and Mr. Walter and Eric in the prison. The scene feels like it was written to be performed by college or high school students, and not a middle-aged master criminal. Also, the sexual tension the supplier, Mercedes, is feeling between her and Schmidt feels forced, and is one of the few parts of the story I didn’t find funny, and it killed the momentum of the action sequence. While the previews for future movies during the end credits were fun, it takes attention away from the actual ending itself, and for that I would suggest cutting any of the end credit scenes after 23 Jump Street.
I don’t think restructuring the story would do anything to help this script. The structure follows Blake Snyder’s beat sheet pretty closely. It was pretty clear cut; everything made sense and was laid out in what seemed to me was a logical order. With the exception of the end credit scenes, nothing seemed out of place, and I didn’t find myself asking “why is this happening?” It feels like this has been revised so many times, the structure of the film is perfect as is.
The dialog is amusing. Schmidt’s dialog is irritating when he does his improv, but it works for the character. Jenko’s dialog makes him come across as a man-child, especially with all the talk about Lamborghinis, which again, suits the character and make him sync perfectly with Zook. The Ghost seems like a villain right out of an 80’s movie, and the dialog about the “old days” reflects that. Patton Oswald’s professor character has some brilliant dialog and is under utilized. Captain Dickson’s reaction to Schmidt having sex with his daughter is hilarious, and just as humorous is Jenko’s reaction in the office. The dialog is well polished and I don’t think there is a way to make it any better by revising it.