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YOMYOMF's Summer Blockbuster Showdown Part 1-01

Select Offenders will be reviewing this summer’s crop of Hollywood tentpole films with a scientifically tested set of criteria that was vetted, nurtured, dissected and regurgitated through the pop-culture gadflies who have nothing better to do than annoy other productive people in the YOMYOMF office. So, we channeled their nitpicks of the incessant reboots, remakes and rehashes that are part and parcel with Hollywood summer movies into this ongoing summer blog series called the SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER SHOWDOWN.

Since we’re a little late in the game (we’re already heading into July), we’re going to play catch-up this week with a series of blogs about the films that have been released already. In this edition, we discuss the sequel, 22 JUMP STREET.

BTW, this roundtable review is chock full of spoilers. You’ve been warned! 

1. Remake, Reboot, or Recycled? — Is it a remake or reboot and how does it compare to the previous version?

Liz: 22 JUMP STREET is the sequel to one of my personal favorite movies  of all time, 21 JUMP STREET. Technically, it’s a new story but basically it’s the same movie as the first one, but in college setting.  The filmmakers even call out the recycled plot lines in the film saying multiple times that the characters need to do the exact same thing they did in their last case.

David: This ain’t no remake… it’s a reinvention.  I didn’t like the first one too much, it feels like a warm up.  Now that the kinks are worked out, the second rolled out just nicely.  It’s quite unique to make a so called “remake” and totally go off tangent with disregard of the original material.  Still it works for this comedic gem.

Anderson: It’s a sequel to a reboot. I am the dissenting voice here, where I think the first film is far superior. It’s a meta-comedy that is funny at times, but it gets way too smarmy and meta for me. It also makes fun in throwing it out there that this movie should follow the same plot points as the first movie, but to just do it bigger and better. I found that just lazy and stupid. It goes to the inferior sequel category like THE HANGOVER 2, which was essentially the same as the original as well.

2. Asian Sidekick?
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David: I guess the next door dormmates were half Asian… hardly!

Liz: This movie was lacking Asians. The Lucas Brothers played twins whose mother was supposed to be Asian. So, they were hapas. They were a minor role but were very funny. I don’t know their specific ethnic background so I can’t speak to the authenticity of their hapa-ness but hey, way for the writers to talk about Asians having babies with different ethnic groups.

There was also a scene where Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum get high off an illegal drug and Tatum hallucinates that he’s dancing with Vietnamese Jesus played by Dustin Nguyen. Dustin had some dance moves on screen. No dialogue sadly.

Anderson: This was the first time I saw the Lucas Brothers onscreen. EW recently did an interview with this comedic twin duo. They were cool, in that hipster stoner way, and the fact that they were playing half-Chinese.  There was also another unnamed Asian girl who was walking back to her dorm ala “walk of shame.”

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Plus, my man Dustin Nguyen made a very brief cameo as Vietnamese Jesus, but I wished he was actually in the film as Detective Ioki. The first film had Holly Robinson, Peter Deluise and Johnny Depp (with a quick shot of Dustin on an HDTV monitor), but since 23 Jump Street is the address to the new HQ, which is located in an abandoned Vietnamese church, then he could’ve been a great character, even as a sergeant in the precinct. I just wished he had a more substantive cameo.

3. Explanasian or “Let Them Fight”

Liz: The 22 JUMP STREET writers have their characters call out any expositional dialogue whenever they’re about to say it. Nick Offerman’s (Deputy Chief Hardy) only purpose was to give out assignments and say lots of exposition. Ice Cube aka Captain Dickson also provided a ton of expositional dialogue to help keep our protagonists’ journey on point. He also has a new office that they said looks like an “ice cube.” That call out was pretty genius.

David: The only exposition I really noticed was the “Just because you double the budget, you think you’ll get double the money” speech.  He goes on to explain that their first mission in high school (just like the first movie) was a success, so having to go at it again doesn’t mean you’re going to be successful (like this movie)… genius!

Anderson: Meta, meta, meta! I know directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are hot shit now (with back-to-back hits with the 21 JUMP STREET, THE LEGO MOVIE and 22) and meta-humor is their jam, but this kind of humor also wears its welcome. A similar situation is the ANCHORMAN franchise, which has similar humor. ANCHORMAN 2 was horrible with comedy bits that just went way too long and sputtered out.

4. Ground Zero Metropolis or How much mass destruction?

Liz: In a crazy car chase, Hill and Tatum try to avoid leading a the action through expensive areas since their department (according to Ice Cube) is running low on funds and they need to stop bleeding the coffers dry. And of course, in the true comedy style of any slapstick movie ever made, our two heroes go through and destroy a bunch of expensive buildings and landmarks at the University, such as: an ATM, the robotics building, a sculpture garden, and ultimately a goal post on a football field.

David: The only carnage was my ribs bursting during Hill’s character and his love interest’s roommate fight scene!  This is one for the books.

5. Nolan or Schumacher? — Which kind of Batman is this movie, the gritty, grounded in reality Dark Knight or the nipples on rubber sculpted muscles, kind of gay Batman?

Liz: This movie was neither Nolan or Schumacher-esque. The plot and script of 22 Jump was nowhere as tight as it’s predecessor, but 22 Jump was still an enjoyable comedy full of funny moments and both Hill and Tatum are a pleasure to watch on screen.

David: It’s Schumacher all the way!  Nolan free.

Anderson: It’s the spawn of Apatow, Seth Rogen, Funny or Die and College Humor. Hipster, white boy humor that is a mix of improv, pop culture jingoisms, and bromance. It’s a type of comedy that has monopolized mainstream entertainment for a while now. Overall, pretty tiring. I actually thought Channing Tatum was good but Jonah Hill’s needy schtick was getting to me. It’s time to find a new voice.

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6. Which character in the film could’ve been played by an Asian and who would be your casting choice?

Liz: Shout out to my friend Marc Evan Jackson for his great job playing the Psychology Professor…but that role could have easily been played by a couple of great Asian comedic actors like Randall Park or Aaron Takahashi.

The other role that could have been played by an Asian would have been Jillian Bell’s character, Mercedes. Let me be very clear, Bell was flawless in this role. She had great chemistry with Jonah Hill and had some of my favorite scenes in the whole movie. However, any amazing comedic actresses of Asian descent could have played this character.

David: If I said John Cho and Kal Penn to replace Hill and Tatum, that would be too obvious.  How about Stephen Chow and Bruce Lee?  Hey, I’d see it!

Anderson: The other missed opportunity that these JUMP STREET movies versus the original TV show, is the fact that it doesn’t celebrate any ethnic diversity. The movie franchise is just two white guys and an angry black guy as their captain. Talk about multicultural regression….

7. Banana Rating — 1 banana worst to 4 bananas best

Liz: A solid 3 Bananas. Yes, the story and script weren’t as tight as 21 Jump Street but the chemistry between all the leads and the many LOL moments make it worth the movie ticket price.

David: A 3 side splitting bananas out of 4 bananas.

Anderson: 1.75 Bananas. The first film was way better, but it’s story, beats, and comedy were completely xeroxed for this sequel. I hate it when an sequel is paint by the numbers, let’s replicate “the magic” and so forth. “Quick cash grab” is written all over this one. Or, the cast and crew was just having too much fun and it wasn’t as disciplined, because the film has some peaks and valleys when it came to the comedy and seeing what sticks. It was almost as bad as THE HANGOVER 2 and ANCHORMAN 2. Sad, really. For the inevitable 23 JUMP STREET, they gotta mix it up and throw in some new partners too.

Dominic (Jumping in at last minute): This is not a review, this is just to say I’m not gonna see any of the 21 JUMP STREET movies due to the following:

  • An Ideological objection to Channing Tatum
  • Principled objection to lack of Holly Robinson
  • Once, out of nostalgia, I bought the 21 JUMP STREET first-season TV show DVD at Amoeba. Was very upset to find that in the DVD, all the pop songs of the 80’s were taken out, subbed with some sort of back-catalog cheese pop (presumably for music licensing cost reasons). So, no more Steve Winwood, no more Timbuk 3. That moment kind of broke my sentimental attachment to 21 JUMP STREET for evermore.

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About the contributors:
Liz Ho (@elizabethhoacts) I am a fortune cookie: a crispy-Asian-American-treat that will give you useless advice & lotto numbers. I love Star Trek, alpacasso, Star Wars (IV-VI), makeup, reading, and taking daily pictures of my ewok of a dog named Cooper. I am also an actor.

Dominic Mah (@dommah) is a writer, director, erratic blogger at dommah.com, and rock musical enthusiast. He tweets pop-culture critique as @thorhulkcritic. Pretty soon he will be premiering a new reality web show about karaoke bars at melancholyball.com.

Anderson Le (@ale808) Anderson is one of the founding Offenders of YOMYOMF and curates THE SHORT LIST. He is also the director of programming for theHawaii International Film Festival.

David C.P. Chan is a visual effects artist and a card carrying “gerd” (geek and nerd) combined.  I quote movie lines at least 50 times a day and will school you at the game of Risk!

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