We've all seen it happen: A popular film feels pressured to produce a sequel. This pressure to produce a script results in inevitable failure. I mean, who hasn't said, at one point or another, that sequels are never as good?
That being said, 22 Jump Street has broken the mold. I'm not sure whether it's the comedic brilliance of duo Channing Tatum (Jenko) and Jonah Hill (Schmidt) or the writing itself, but either way, the sequel can most definitely consider itself a victory.
For starters, the concept of a self-aware sequel superbly calls out and challenges the previous notion that sequels are always of a lesser quality than the first film. Throughout 22 Jump Street, attention is continually called to the opinion that sequels are a less than exciting cinematic experience, but, ironically, at no point in the film do you as a viewer feel this way.
The depth of character development may be a cause of this, as the characters feel far more distinguished in the sequel. An example: Captain Dickson (Ice Cube). He may have had a few one-liners here and there in 21 Jump Street, but in the sequel, his comedic role is much more defined. In fact, some of the funniest scenes of the movie include Dickson.
Jenko and Schmidt themselves are much more developed in the sequel as well, as their characters continue to learn more about themselves throughout the course of the film. Because the characters are more developed, the audience doesn't grow tired of essentially the same film. Plus, the offscreen bromance between Tatum and Hill: how perfect, right?
Yet another aspect of the film that drew me in was its resistance to doing what is expected of it. The film keeps the element of surprise on its side; something other sequel-making directors should keep in their back pocket for the future.
However, although it is important to change it up, it is just as important not to stray too far from the concepts of the first film. The filmmakers definitely keep this in mind during production, as they are able to perfectly balance past characters with the inclusion of new characters, while also maintaining a similar, yet new storyline.
All in all, I'd consider 22 Jump Street one of the best sequels I've seen to date, without exaggeration. There's no specific quality to pinpoint as the reason for this, and this is what makes the film so successful. By using a combination of film aspects in order to fight the sequel curse, filmmakers turned the tables and created a film that I'd consider even better than the first.
It's about time someone did it right.