Trying to write a review of 22 Jump Street—which I’ve been putting off for as long as humanly possible—I find myself at a loss. Not because I don’t have anything to say about this sly, self-referencing movie, but because there doesn’t seem to be any need for it. The film is critic-proof, reviewing itself as it goes along. It’s a buddy cop movie about the conventions of buddy cop movies, a sequel about the appeal and downside of sequels, a low expectation summer blockbuster about the low expectations of all summer blockbusters. Basically, it wants to eat its genre parody cake and have it too.
In the first movie, the 2012 hit that borrowed its title and undercover brother shtick from the old television show best known for making every ’80s teenage girl in America and beyond fall in love with Johnny Depp, the Jump Street operation was restarted, Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman) explains, because “The guys in charge of this stuff lack creativity and are completely out of ideas.” That may have registered as a jab at the studio powers that be, but in reality it’s a smiling affirmation that the guys in charge know precisely what they’re doing.