Undercover cops back for a laugh

Jonah Hill, left, and Channing Tatum in Columbia Pictures' "22 Jump Street." Schmidt (JONAH HILL) and Jenko (CHANNING TATUM)in the film 22 Jump Street.

Jonah Hill, left, and Channing Tatum in Columbia Pictures' "22 Jump Street." Schmidt (JONAH HILL) and Jenko (CHANNING TATUM)in the film 22 Jump Street.

IN 2012 unlikely duo Channing Tatum (White House Down) and Jonah Hill (Moneyball) rebooted American television undercover cop show 21 Jump Street from the '80s with their effortless chemistry and self-aware dialogue, striking comedy gold with fans worldwide.

Their return in 22 Jump Street is more than welcome, as they, and directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, skilfully avoid the curse of the sequel and present a hilarious second film.

Delivering on the directors' promise to make this film exactly the same as the last, 22 Jump Street succeeds where The Hangover 2 failed by often reminding the audience that nothing will be changing second time around.

As in 21 Jump Street, Tatum's Jenko and Hill's Schmidt go undercover in an educational institution (this time college instead of high school) to "infiltrate the dealers and find the supplier" of a popular new drug; WHY-PHY (Work Hard Yes, Play Hard Yes).

22 Jump Street is a film for an audience who knows it was created to bank on the success of its predecessor and milks it for all it's worth, throwing in lines like "way more expensive for no reason" to describe the new office for the Jump Street operation.

Ice Cube (Three Kings) has a larger, angrier role as Captain Dixon this time, and is responsible for some of the film's biggest laughs.

And there are laughs aplenty, from the goofy beginning - Hill's line: "It's inking in my mouth!" is sure to be repeated by enthusiastic fans of the franchise for weeks - to the not-to-be-missed closing credits sequence.

Even viewers who haven't seen the first film will love 22 Jump Street's meta dialogue, outrageous chase scenes and pop cultural relevance — though a lot of the best comedy comes from the repetition of events and ideas in 21 Jump Street.

New cast, such as crime boss Peter Stormare (Armageddon) and college girl Amber Stevens (TV's Greek) fit perfectly into the crazy, self-referential world the co-directors have created, but it's a joy to see some of the old cast return for brief cameos as well.

To say that 22 Jump Street has surpassed its predecessor would be a stretch, but it is certainly accurate to say that it has equaled it for both laughs and spot-on self-awareness.

Quite possibly the funniest film of 2014, 22 Jump Street is everything fans could have hoped for and more, and should not be missed.

22 Jump Street is in cinemas now and is rated MA15+.

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