REVIEW: ’22 Jump Street’

Ice Cube;Jonah Hill;Channing Tatum

I confess that I never watched 21 Jump Street — not the late-’80s cop show with Johnny Depp, not the spoofy movie comedy from 2012 with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. No judgment there — I just didn’t imagine either would be my thing.

So I went into 22 Jump Street open-eyed: Not with low expectations, but rather no expectations. And the result? An unexpectedly laugh-filled two hours of enjoyably wasted time. That’s because 22 Jump Street knows what it is — a craven, ridiculous sequel intended more to make money that achieve art. Indeed, the front quarter of the film is laden down with jokes about how much more expensive everything is — the operations headquarters, the investigation at a college, etc. “As if doubling the budget will double to grosses,” one of the undercover cops (played by Hill and Tatum) smirks.

And that’s the thing: They are, like the audience, always aware they are in a movie. And they have fun. So we do, too.

The plot (as they suggest, stolen directly from 21 Jump) involved these mismatched 30-year-olds posing (ineffectively) as teenagers, this time at Metro City University. Jenko (Tatum) enjoys the college experience — and why wouldn’t he? He’s a stud, a football star, a popular fraternity pledge. Schmidt (Hill), though, is still the lovable loser, the pudgy, nervous kid who creeps people out.

They get a lot of mileage out of the Mutt-and-Jeff combo, with some hilarious riffing on looking like adults, being narcs, etc. Like Judd Apatow movies, there’s a sense that much of this is improvised; unlike Apatow, it doesn’t rely on men sitting around a table constantly one-upping each other in some pot-fueled fantasy of what men talk like. This is a pretension-free film, like the Airplane! movies — the point is simply to chuckle.

And chuckle, guffaw and knee-slap you do, thanks to the enjoyable comic energy between Hill and Tatum, and the bromantic, homoerotic interplay between Tatum and, well, every other man on screen. (Hey, when you have Magic Mike in your movie, you gotta expect some swooning, even by other men.) It’s all in service of the best thing a heartless, money-grubbing summer blockbuster wannabe can be: Worth your time.

Opens in wide release Friday.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Fox goes uber-gay with ‘Allen Gregory,’ ‘American Dad’

Say what you want about their news channel and their leadership, but Sunday night on the Fox broadcast network was about as gay as TV gets.

It started, of course, with The Simpsons, one of the most gay-friendly shows on TV (though Sunday night’s was only gayish — it dealt with foodies). Also on deck was Family Guy — again, a tres gay series with a queer little baby who wants to take over the world and characters who break out into Broadway production numbers at the drop of a hat. We’re used to that.

But it reached new heights of homophilia with Allen Gregory and American Dad.

Allen Gregory is the new series from Jonah Hill. The premise of the show is already inherently queer: Two gay dads, pictured, rear their pretentious little 7-year-old Allen Gregory. There have been, in the previous few outings, several jokes per episode about gay sex between the pompous dad Richard (voiced by French Stewart) and his butch, derided partner Jeremy. But last night, not only were the dads central characters, the plot was all about a school dance where all the students in the elementary school were expected to ask same-sex partners to the dance. This is edgy stuff for established cable shows, but for “family night” on a freshman series?! Wow. The episode was not only funny (I’m already a huge fan of the series), but also witheringly insightful about perceptions of gay people. And the attempted seduction of Jeremy by Richard (including dropped towel) was hilarious.

That was followed by American Dad — again, well-established with a gay history, from the out couple across the street to the fey alien Roger who lives in the attic. But Roger finally met someone romantic … and it turned out the be Ricky Martin. The episode included Ricky and Roger kissing on a couch (and they were really going at it). You gotta love that!

I hope the ratings for both shows are good, and they are certainly worth a Hulu.com (here for American Dad, here for Allen Gregory) visit. Enjoy!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones