One of the biggest shows in the 1980s made a surprising return in the form of film, as Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill had helmed the action, buddy, comedy 21 Jump Street. The 2012 feature was a smashing success so, of course, Hollywood is going to bank off the brand and greenlight a sequel. 22 Jump Street came out two years later, and the second entry was identical to the first; however, critics and audiences were still receptive to the Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill vehicle, and the sequel was a huge box office success. There’s no denying that 21 Jump Street was a hit for Sony, especially since it was a rated-R feature. The real question is, despite all its praise, the sequel seemed to run out of steam given the fact that it was essentially 21 Jump Street with Jenko and Schmidt playing opposite roles of 21 Jump Street; Was a sequel to 21 Jump Street Necessary, to begin with?
Here’s the thing, 21 Jump Street was a satirical feature of the 80’s show. In truth, the original television show was a smash hit, but it’s not exactly one of the defining shows of pop culture. It came out during the time of Married… With Children and The Tracey Ullman Show and the latter two are shown more love than 21 Jump Street. However, despite the fact that the series wasn’t all that memorable, to begin with, there’s enough material that could’ve warranted a sequel. The problem lies with the fact that the writing team seemed stuck on Jenko and Schmidt needing to go undercover as immature stoner students. It worked the first time because 21 Jump Street felt fresh and exciting. It paid homage to the 80s series, but still carved a new path that allowed Hill and Tatum to shine. The first film had a solid story that audiences could relate to. Who hasn’t felt like an outcast during their time in high school? That solid story had hilarious jokes and fun characters that were helped by the writers adding heart to a film that could’ve relied on the raunchy aspect.
However, the sequel was nothing more than a rehash of the first film, with Jenko playing Schmidt’s role and in vice versa. Sure, there were funny moments like the weird love/fight between Hill and Jillan Hall’s characters, and overall, the film wasn’t too bad, but it felt trapped in a premise that could’ve been so much more. 21 Jump Street didn’t have to box itself with the premise of two guys going undercover at school. Yes, that’s the overall premise of the original television series, two young officers going undercover, but did it have to be about drugs again? Why couldn’t it have been a murder mystery on campus? There’s plenty of fun that could’ve been had doing a satirical murder mystery. 21 Jump Street wasn’t just about drugs, it also tackled hate crimes, homophobia, drug trafficking, abuse, and while murder wasn’t particularly the main source of subject in the original series, there’s nothing wrong with the remake adding its own spin on the premise. At the very least, the feature didn’t have to pull the same identity crisis that the guys had in the first film. There’s plenty of juicy material that could’ve been explored in the world of 22 Jump Street, but if the creators didn’t exactly have anything else fresh in mind the guys had the right idea in stopping the franchise at the second film.
Though there’s no confirmed date, but the spin-off, Jump Street: Now For Her Pleasure hopefully doesn’t follow the same route as the original features. There’s no point in doing a female spin-off if the filmmakers are going to be lazy and just apply what worked with the Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill vehicles into their versions. It doesn’t have to follow murder, but the spin-off has to have an identity of its own. Doing another case involving drugs will veer it back into it’s predecessor’s shadow, and will instantly pale in comparison as it’ll be an intimidation of what was done previously before. Stay away from the jokes about the leads age, or their immaturity, and present something that these films have yet to truly touch on so these characters don’t feel like discount Jenko and Schmidt. All-in-all, there was nothing wrong greenlighting a sequel to 21 Jump Street. There’s plenty of directions that the filmmakers could’ve went; however, since the term, “if its not broke, don’t fix it” seemed to be applied to the second entry then it didn’t particularly live up to the greatness of the first movie.