22 Jump Street (2014)

It’s really funny. I laughed a lot. There’s a fight scene where Jonah Hill brawls with a woman and the way they mess around with what happens in man/woman fights is amazing.

I didn’t know going in it would be meta. I haven’t seen the first one so I don’t know if it’s meta. I’m guessing yes. They don’t ever look at the camera and wink but they may as well. Ice Cube’s office looks like a cube of ice, says one of them. That they keep commenting on their own movie and how things are going keeps it pretty interesting. I think the more interesting part is the romance/sex/gay couple thing.

First, there’s no nudity. None. Not Channing Tatum with his shirt off, not anyone. Which I think a lot of fans of his will be sad about (but then I hear there’s a movie where he takes his shirt off. I’ve heard tell). I don’t think I noticed it until they hit Spring Break and then, when they had a perfectly valid reason (and I’m not arguing here that they should have, but c’mon, how many cop movies slide into a strip club scene randomly, this is part of the genre), did they have gratuitous naked. I’m not quite sure how to put this, but even the ladies they chose and how they dressed wasn’t risqué. They avoided objectifying women, except in one scene where a woman is literally used like a nunchuck (a nunchick!).

So it’s like part of the meta is a commentary on action movies and objectifying women – and they say “Not here, you don’t!” and they don’t. The women, the ones that have the most lines, are smart and normal.

But mostly it’s about dudes.

The whole thing spins around the idea of Tatum and Hill as a couple going through hard times. It’s like a sequel to Hot Fuzz for film-savvy American college kids. The weird thing is that they pull it off so well. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill have bro chemistry and they exploit the crap out of it. And they harp on joke of them being gay while completely avoiding anything that would make them actually look gay. There’s one moment – but then it’s back into bro mode. And they fight and feel hurt and do all the stuff couples in romantic comedies do.

But they’re not gay – and to reinforce the fact that they’re not actually gay, there are no gay characters in the movie. And the ‘woman’ guy in the couple starts a relationship with a woman. It’s clever how it toes the line. No one reacts badly to them appearing to be a gay couple, except the bad guys. It’s as if all the sharp edges of being a gay couple are smoothed away in a perfectly P.C., typical college experience the way ugly parts of relationships are smoothed away in a romantic comedy. So in that way I guess it follows the romantic comedy route. Devoutly, actually, it follows the whole arc of a romantic comedy. By-the-numbers.

But it’s really funny. I think it’ll look dated in about 10 years since it works so hard on being hip, but there are scenes that would be straight out of The Naked Gun if they were played less casually. I’m a little jealous of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, everything they touch right now is meta gold.

R for violence and lots of potty-mouth language.

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