22 Jump Street ★★★

If the formula works the first time, can it work again? The Hangover Part II proved that it’s possible to wring out a few new laughs simply by doing the exact same thing again. But it also proved that, ultimately, it’s a doomed proposition (so, so doomed). But what if the sequel is very aware of what it's doing, and fully committed to making fun of the very formula it's repeating? Can it work then?

Well, not really. It’s a valiant effort, but it still can’t re-capture the magic of the first film to the same extent. Fortunately, the Lord & Miller “Midas touch” is hard to ignore, and even if the film feels like a cobbled-together re-hash, it’s still incredibly funny in countless places, many of which are the self-references it uses to poke fun at itself.

Most of the film’s success is due to the character-work and the commitment Tatum and Hill put in (in this instalment, especially Tatum), while the expanded support cast sprinkle in some auxiliary chuckles throughout. But the use of these characters is scattershot and inconsistent; where the first film succeeded by progressing through its plot with a core contingent, this film meanders.

All in all, it does what it sets out to do, and it’s all very watchable. Just don’t expect it to be all that fresh.