Ep. 32 – CineSnob’s Top 10 and Bottom 5 Movies of 2014

January 4, 2015 by  
Filed under Podcast

[iframe style=”border:none” src=”http://html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/3276305/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/yes/theme/standard” height=”100″ width=”480″ scrolling=”no” allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen]

Click here to download the episode!

In this week’s episode of The CineSnob Podcast, the guys from CineSnob.net bring 2014 to a close. They discuss their Top 10 films of the year, as well as the 5 worst movies they saw all year.

[0:00-8:47] Intro & year in review
[8:47-1:39:27] Top 10 Films of 2014
[1:39:27-2:11:19] Bottom 5 Films of 2014
[2:11:19-2:16:18] Teases for next week and close

Subscribe to The CineSnob Podcast via RSSiTunes or Stitcher.

To give your feedback, e-mail us at podcast [at] cinesnob [dot] net, or leave a voicemail at 920-FILM-210.

CineSnob.net’s Top Ten Films of 2014

December 31, 2014 by  
Filed under CineBlog

Here is a look at the Top Ten Film Lists of 2014 for all three CineSnob.net film critics – Cody Villafana, Jerrod Kingery and Kiko Martinez. Below that is a consensus list for the entire site. Thanks for being a fan of CineSnob.net! We’ll see you in the New Year!

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I have to say …2014 was yet another disappointing year at the movies. Maybe my expectations are too high? I’m not sure. Either way, it is yet another year with a lot of good, solid movies, but few that reach the levels of greatness that might make a list like this easy to compose. Still, out of the 180 films I saw this year (someday…someday I will catch up to Kiko) there are a handful that stood above the pack. Note: Apparently the theme of this year’s list is “parental relationship issues,” as at least six of these movies have a major plotline of the strain of a parent/child relationship. You could argue that another two could fit the bill as well.
– Cody Villafana, CineSnob film critic

10. The LEGO Movie
(dirs. Phil Lord and Chris Miller)
Is there anything that co-directors Lord and Miller can’t do in the world of comedy? Further perpetuating their rightful spot on the list of the most unique and exciting filmmakers working today, Lord and Miller’s “The LEGO Movie” took a the concept of a simple age-old toy (and yes, a couple of pre-existing characters) and churned out an incredibly original, legitimately hilarious, and wildly fun film. While it is not uncommon for animated films to feature adult oriented humor and themes, “The LEGO Movie” features rapid fire, consistently funny jokes and a creative energy that you rarely see in an animated film. Lord and Miller, somehow, managed to capture the essence and breakneck sense of their style and humor into another animated film. Chris Pratt and Morgan Freeman are your voice-acting standouts, but everyone involved is fantastic. At this point, I firmly believe that Lord and Miller can take any project and turn it into a unique piece of gold.

9. Ida
(dir. Pawel Pawlikowski)
After no foreign films made my list last year, I’m very happy to be able to place the Polish film “Ida,” at No. 9 on my list. As the story of a young nun-in-training who unexpectedly finds her last remaining relative and some unknown details about her past, “Ida” is the most subdued coming-of-age tale in ages. Shot in stark black-and-white, cinematographers Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewsk create a beautiful palette with uniquely composed shots and taking advantage of the rule-of-thirds. Even though much of the subject matter is dark, actress Agata Trzebuchowska brings such sweetness to title character Ida that it sticks with you long after the credits have rolled. This film is currently available for streaming on Netflix instant.

8. Wild
(dir. Jean Marc-Vallée)
Reminiscent of something you might see from director Danny Boyle (“127 Hours”), “Wild” is a study of a character in a precarious position with flashbacks to see the journey she took to get there. Though it is occasionally a little too frenetic and perhaps a touch long, “Wild” still serves as an emotionally gripping meditation on not only the loss of others, but also the loss of ones self. It features a stripped down and emotionally vulnerable performance from actress Reese Witherspoon that is among the best of her career. Additionally, the themes and scenes involving Witherspoon’s interaction with her mother, played by an incredible Laura Dern, are among the best storylines of any film this year.

7. Citizenfour
(dir. Laura Poitras)
Regardless on where you fall on the subject of Edward Snowden and his leak of NSA documents and procedures, “Citizenfour” feels more important and essential than any other documentary this year. Largely taking place in a hotel room in China, “Citizenfour” is quite literally a first-hand account of Snowden blowing the whistle on the NSA and revealing secrets to the journalists that broke the story open. The footage is mesmerizing as the audience is treated to, for better or worse, a monumental historical moment. It is a glimpse into the thought process, motivations and a little bit of the paranoia of Snowden who explains in his own words why he did what he did. He is quite easily the most fascinating documentary subject I saw in 2014.

6. Blue Ruin
(dir. Jeremy Saulnier)
There is something to be said about a film that is simple, yet expertly crafted, which seems like an apt description for “Blue Ruin.” There isn’t a whole lot of complexity to this revenge story, yet the film is so well paced and phenomenally directed by Saulnier that it becomes entirely engrossing. Using gorgeous shots and attention to detail (especially with the recurring palette of the color blue) Saulnier’s film is quiet, moody, bloody and intimate, culminating in the best revenge film in recent memory. Go check out the synopsis, details and cast of Saulnier’s upcoming 2015 film “Green Room” and you will quickly see why he is one of the most intriguing filmmaking voices to watch in the future. This film is currently available for streaming on Netflix instant.

5. Starred Up
(dir. David Mackenzie)
Though many may believe that actor Jack O’Connell will have broken onto the scene with Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken,” it is the British prison film “Starred Up” that will truly mark 2014 as the year of his arrival. It may touch on a few of familiar themes in past prison movies, but what sets “Starred Up” apart is the complex relationship between a father and son who are both in the same prison. Adding to the mix is a major storyline involving an in-prison anger management group led by a volunteer that, admittedly, speaks to my day job in the mental health field. First time screenwriter Jonathon Asser (a therapist himself) is a natural, able to convey authentic, natural dialogue in the context of the groups as well as building wrinkles and dynamics into the aforementioned relationship that contributes to “Starred Up,” being one of the standouts of the year.

4. Chef
(dir. Jon Favreau)
Taking place in the ever-expanding world of food trucks, Favreau’s “Chef” is absurdly likeable. Above everything else, “Chef” is a story about the connection between father and son, which is a bond that stands out as one of the best and most authentic father/son relationships in a quite a while. The sense of sweetness that runs through “Chef” is genuine, and is equally matched by the levels of humor that Favreau churns out of a really great script. Though the film may come off as a little lighthearted, “Chef” is immensely charming and out of all the films on this list, is the first one I’d recommend to the casual moviegoer. Oh, and pro tip: don’t watch the glorious scenes of food porn on an empty stomach.

3. Selma
(dir. Ava DuVernay)
There is perhaps no film released in 2014 more timely than DuVernay’s “Selma.” As a tale of the events surrounding marches from Selma to Montgomery for the voting rights of African-Americans in the 1965 led by Dr. Martin Luther King, “Selma” contains images that will certainly be affecting to much of its audience. David Oyelowo is absolutely electric as MLK, in a transfixing performance that is sure to lead to many, many future roles. As an interesting wrinkle, the filmmakers were unable to procure the rights to King’s actual speech transcripts, which makes Paul Webb’s convincing screenplay all the more impressive. Equal parts sad and powerful, “Selma” is unflinching in its portrayal of the brutality faced by African-Americans in the 1960’s and one of the best civil rights movies that I, personally, have ever watched.

2. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
(dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)
Out of all the films I’ve seen in 2014, the one I can’t stop thinking about is Iñárritu’s “Birdman,” which features the year’s best in a lot of different areas. First and foremost, Michael Keaton is sensational in the role of Riggan Thomson, an actor known for starring in an action film series who wants to be treated as a serious artist. It is a performance that is equal parts neurotic, quirky, nuanced and hilarious and Keaton, more than any other actor in any other category deserves an Oscar this year. Second is the film’s visual style, specifically the brilliant cinematography by Academy Award winner Emmanuel Lubezki (“Gravity”). Stitched together to make the film appear as, essentially, one long, unbroken take, Lubezki’s sprawling, swooping tracking shots give this small film an amazing sense of grandiosity. Finally, “Birdman” is the best-written film of the year, with a razor-sharp screenplay that is often hysterically funny, bitingly satirical, and a compelling study into the fear of fading out of relevance. In any other year, it may have been enough to capture the top spot…however…

1. Boyhood
(dir. Richard Linklater)
All the superlatives and accolades Linklater’s astonishing “Boyhood” has received may not quite do justice to this monumental cinematic achievement. Filmed with the same cast over the span of 12 years, “Boyhood” is more of an experience than merely a movie, and is easily one of the most unique and ambitious films I’ve ever seen. Some may call it a gimmick, and perhaps it is, but watching the years seamlessly melt away on screen, all while seeing not only physical growth in characters, but growth as people and the evolution family dynamics is nothing short of brilliant. Not enough can be said about Linklater’s direction, which nears perfection. Little nuances like an incredibly smart use of music from the time period the film was shot to clue the audience in on the year show that Linklater had a giant, epic ambition and carefully thought out how tie the pieces together. Likely to become a hallmark “coming-of-age” film, “Boyhood” ascends its technical feats to be a well-acted, sharply written, funny and moving meditation on growing up.

Honorable Mentions: The Imitation Game, I Origins, A Most Wanted Man

 

Unlike my counterparts, I found 2014 to be a perfectly fine year for movies. But it was the year I finally had enough of the Transformers films. Anyway, here are my top 10 for 2014.
– Jerrod Kingery, CineSnob film critic

 

10. 22 Jump Street
(dirs. Phil Lord and Chris Miller)
This sequel to an incredibly funny movie–that had no reason to exist in the first place–commenting on the state of movie sequels was simultaneously amazingly smart and utterly hilarious. Channing Tatum continues to impress as a comedic actor, and Jonah Hill successfully bounces between physical comedy roles like this and more dramatic fare. Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller probably had the best 2014 in Hollywood (see entry No. 5 as well) and have rightly vaulted to the A-list of directors.

9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
(dirs. Anthony and Joe Russo)
In my initial review of the film, I wrote that “’The Winter Soldier’ feels like the first Marvel film since “The Avengers’” dominated the box office to actually live in and shake up the world that film left behind.” While “Guardians of the Galaxy” got most of the positive buzz for Marvel this year, it was truly Cap’s second solo adventure that upped the ante for superhero films.

8. Citizenfour
(dir. Laura Poitras)
Incredible timing and wonderful luck smiled upon director Poitras when an encrypted email regarding illegal wiretapping and surveillance by the NSA turned out to be from Edward Snowden, the world’s most notorious whistleblower. Capturing the events as they unfolded, Poitras and her team deftly maneuver through the pitfalls of exposing what they see as a widespread injustice while also fearing for their own safety.

7. Selma
(dir. Ava DuVernay)
It’s hard to believe that the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the most prominent human beings of the 20th century, had yet to receive the biopic treatment. Director DuVernay’s “Selma” wisely closes the scope on King’s life, avoiding the typical biopic trap of covering too much ground, instead focusing on the Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches. David Oyelowo as King and Tom Wilksinson as LBJ turn in powerful performances, avoiding hagiography and portraying both icons as powerful men with agendas.

6. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
(dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)
I did something I never do and re-watched “Birdman” recently to see if my initial opinion (good but not great) had softened a bit, and I’m glad to say that it had. Michael Keaton, in a thinly-veiled satirical take on his own life and career, is darkly brilliant. Edward Norton, while we’re at it, deconstructs the asshole Method actor reputation he’s cultivated during his career without an apology in sight, and director Iñárritu’s one-take approach is a technical marvel.

5. The Lego Movie
(dirs. Phil Lord and Chris Miller)
If some junk like “Big Hero 6” walks away with the animated Oscar over the brilliant, subversive, post-modern family film “The Lego Movie,” may every member of the Academy be cursed to walk a mile every day on a bed of the sharpest Lego bricks. Directors Lord and Miller again take what should be an unfilmable property—a movie about Lego bricks!—and spin it into absolute gold. The film’s charming faux stop-motion and vocal-generated sound effects make the whole endeavor feel like something every kid could cook up in their bedroom.

4. A Most Violent Year
(dir. J.C. Chandor)
Modern TV and film is overflowing with anti-heroes, characters we root for when they decide to take the path of least resistance and give in to a life of crime. Oscar Isaac’s heating oil magnate Abel in “A Most Violent Year” is different, an hard-working man who resists the urge to become a gangster, even as finances, hijackings, and the district attorney tighten the screws on his life. It’s like the origin story for a character from “The Sopranos” we never saw.

3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
(dir. Matt Reeves)
Though this sequel to a prequel is named somewhat confusingly (“dawn” and “rise” are essentially synonyms), everything else about this big-budget sci-fi disaster film is spot on. Led by another amazing performance by Andy Serkis as Caesar, the army of motion-capture apes is one of the most impressive, breathtaking special effects ever rendered on a movie screen. For all intents and purposes, these creatures are real, and the film wisely respects that. This is blockbuster filmmaking at its absolute finest.

2. Wild
(dir. Jean Marc-Vallée)
Nick Hornby, one of my favorite authors, wrote the screenplay for “Wild,” and it shows. Reese Witherspoon, in a career-best performance, plays real-life Cheryl Strayed as a patented Hornby asshole, looking for redemption for an ugly turn in life by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Channeling Danny Boyle, director Vallée peppers Cheryl’s lengthy, lonely journey with stream-of-consciousness thoughts and flashbacks to her mother, brought to life beautifully by Laura Dern in a performance filled with body language and a sadness that lurks just below the surface.

1. Boyhood
(dir. Richard Linklater)
To say that Linklater’s 12-year experiment watching his actors grow feels effortless almost seems insulting, but what could have been nothing more than a stunt becomes so engrossing you’ll forget that nearly three hours just rolled by when the movie is over. As a slice of life of Texas in the 2000s, “Boyhood” deftly signals the passage of time with pop songs and the evolution of cell phones. While the performances from the kids aren’t stellar (Linklater’s daughter is a particular weak spot), the film comes alive when Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke are onscreen.

 

Mustering enough strength to compile a Top 10 Films list for this year (in between sobbing uncontrollably over the fact that filmmaking demigod and personal obsession Paul Thomas Anderson would not find a place on the roster) was more challenging than usual. Nevertheless, after battling in the trenches and seeing a grand total of 211 films, here is a look at the best in 2014.
– Kiko Martinez, CineSnob founder and editor

10. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
(dir. Matt Reeves)
There were some impressive live-action summer blockbusters this year, but nothing was quite as exhilarating – with the same emotional depth as a Shakespearian tragedy – than this sci-fi sequel featuring the most striking use of motion-capture technology ever. First-class visual effects aside, these CGI simians offered a startling look at the complex ideologies of waging war.

9. A Most Wanted Man
(dir. Anton Corbijn)
Late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final curtain call as a leading man comes courtesy of this slow-burning espionage thriller adapted from a John le Carré novel about a Chechen immigrant who may be an Islamic terrorist. For audiences who are patient with meticulously paced narratives, the spy story is an intelligent, mature and riveting piece of filmmaking anchored with subtly by Hoffman, an amazing talent lost far too soon.

8. Two Days, One Night
(dir. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
Point a camera at actress Marion Cotillard for the duration of a feature drama and remarkable things are bound to happen, especially with an such an engaging script by Belgian filmmakers the Dardenne brothers. As Belgium’s official foreign language Oscar submission this year, Cotillard is captivating as a working class woman who has one weekend to convince coworkers to turn down a bonus so she can keep her job.

7. Citizenfour
(dir. Laura Poitras)
No matter where you stand on the issue of global surveillance programs, there is no denying the powerful and fascinating footage captured for this documentary on former NSA contract worker Edward Snowden. Playing out like a classic political thriller, Poitras finds herself on the frontlines of this game-changing event. Watching this real-time whistleblowing is nothing short of unbelievable.

6. Wild
(dir. Jean Marc-Vallée)
Actress Reese Witherspoon becomes one with nature in this emotionally affecting biographical drama adapted from writer Cheryl Strayed’s memoir about her 1,000-mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. Witherspoon, as a damaged and self-destructive woman, gives the most genuine and beautiful performance of her career, and Laura Dern epitomizes what it means to have a full heart but live a fragile life.

5. Ida
(dir. Pawel Pawlikowski)
Elegantly shot, Ida is the official foreign language Oscar submission by Poland this year. Set in the 1960s, the film follows a young Jewish novitiate nun who journeys with her estranged aunt to find the final resting place of her parents who were killed during the Nazi occupation. Sober in tone, but not without its moments of pure joy, the haunting black and white art-house film is brilliantly crafted.

4. A Most Violent Year
(dir. J.C. Chandor)
Latino immigrant and heating oil business owner Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) is determined to expand his company, but finds it difficult when his trucks are consistently hijacked. With the city’s DA office watching him, Abel and his mob-tied wife (Jessica Chastain) must decide how hard they will push back to ensure their American Dream doesn’t fade away. Atmospheric and intense, consider this a sort of anti-Goodfellas, but something Martin Scorsese would value wholeheartedly.

3. Selma
(dir. Ava DuVernay)
As the first major historical film ever to be released on the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., DuVernay and her cast, including a top-tier performance by actor David Oyelowo, have made an important film that centers on the 1965 Voting Rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. From the intriguing backroom politics to the sacrifices made during the era, screenwriter Paul Webb turns a well-documented history lesson into essential cinema.

2. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
(dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)
As much of a technical achievement as it must have been to make it all work, this ambitious dark comedy featuring a noteworthy turn by actor Michael Keaton and is guided by a whip-smart, witty and self-aware script. Everything feels erratic on screen and punctuated well by a madcap, (mostly) percussion score that drives the narrative forward and makes everyone soar.

1. Boyhood
(dir. Richard Linklater)
Trying to fathom the 12-year-long journey Linklater and his cast took to form this soul-bearing, intimate and genuinely uplifting drama would be counterproductive to the intent of this once-in-a-lifetime coming-of-age film. Everyone should allow it to just wash over them and give into its masterful execution. Epic is an understatement.

Honorable Mentions: The Babadook, Big Hero 6, Blue Ruin, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Chef, Edge of Tomorrow, Finding Vivian Maier, Force Majure, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Life Itself, Locke, Obvious Child, Whiplash, X-Men: Days of Future Past

 

CineSnob.net Consensus List: Top Ten Films of 2014

1. Boyhood
2. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
3. Selma
4. Wild
5. A Most Violent Year
6. Citizenfour
7. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
8. Ida
9. The LEGO Movie
10. Chef

Ep. 4 – 22 Jump Street, overdue sequels, and the best TV-to-film adaptations

June 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Podcast

[iframe style=”border:none” src=”http://html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/2892014/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/yes/theme/standard” height=”100″ width=”480″ scrolling=”no” allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen]

Click here to download the episode!

In this week’s episode of The CineSnob Podcast, the guys review “22 Jump Street.” They also discuss the “Dumb and Dumber To” trailer and their opinions of long spans between a movie and a sequel, the 20th anniversary of the Mighty Ducks Trilogy and their favorite sports movies as kids, and they give their top 3 best TV-to-film adaptations.

[0:00-11:11] Discussion of the Dumb and Dumber To trailer and opinions on long-awaited sequels
[11:11-21:15] A mostly disastrous conversation of the Mighty Ducks franchise and favorite sports movies as kids
[21:15-32:55] 22 Jump Street
[32:55-45:19] 22 Jump Street Spoiler Talk
[45:19-46:57] 22 Jump Street Wrap-Up
[46:56-1:13:15] List List, Bang Bang: Top 3 TV-to-Film Adaptations
[1:13:15-1:16:20] Teases for next week and close

Subscribe to The CineSnob Podcast via RSS, iTunes or Stitcher.

To give your feedback, e-mail us at podcast [at] cinesnob [dot] net, or leave a voicemail at 920-FILM-210.

 

Eddie J. Fernandez – 22 Jump Street

June 13, 2014 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

As a Hollywood stuntman for nearly 30 years (he prefers the term “action actor”), veteran stunt performer Eddie J. Fernandez has managed not only to make himself readily available for stunt work whenever he’s called upon, but also for speaking roles in films where his skill set as an action-actor is also helpful. Although not recognizable when doing stunts in such recent films as “Machete Kills” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” Fernandez has been camera ready for his roles in movies like “The Last Stand,” “Captain America: Winter Solider” and “Sabotage.”

In “22 Jump Street,” his newest film as an actor-actor/stunt driver, Fernandez plays Scarface, a criminal who crosses paths with police officers Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) as they go undercover to try and track down a drug dealer at a local college. In the trailer for the film, Hill is seen making fun of Fernandez when he refers to him as the “Mexican Wolverine.”

During my interview with Fernandez, who took our call while working on a film in Mexico, we talked about his latest injury on his current set, working opposite an Oscar-nominated actor and how the name “Mexican Wolverine” came to pass.

What are you doing in Mexico right now?

We’re shooting a movie with [kickboxer/actor] Gary Daniels. It’s one of those drug cartel movies where someone owes someone else money and they’re trying to get it back. I play the right-hand man of one of the drug cartel leaders. We’re doing martial-arts fight scenes and shoot outs, so it’s been pretty cool.

Any injuries during this specific shoot?

Yeah, unfortunately, during the third or fourth day, we had some squibs going off at a big shoot out at a house and I had to dive over a couch. There was a camera in the way, so I had to tuck in and try to avoid it. When I did that I had a gun hit me in the head and split it open. I had to get seven stitches. (Laughs) So, yeah, we didn’t need to use makeup. I actually had scars. But it worked out at the end.

Speaking of scars, you have a pretty noticeable one for your role as Scarface in the sequel “22 Jump Street.” How did you get that gig?

I had just finished up with another film and someone called me to see if I had a big rig license. I said yes and they told me they had a part they’d like to submit me for. So, in the film, it’s me doing all the action and the acting. The directors Chris [Miller] and Philip [Lord] were very pleased with my reel and offered me the job.

What was it like working with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in your scenes?

It was funny, funny stuff. Jonah Hill doesn’t go by the script. He just says things. The first day of shooting I was like “Whoa! OK, this is not out of the script.” I had to think about how I was going to respond. I didn’t want him to catch me with my guard down. I wanted to go all out. It winded up pretty funny and cool.

Were you at all worried about sharing your scenes with a two-time Oscar nominee?

I wasn’t worried about it, but yeah I quickly saw why he was nominated. The guy is very talented. He came up with some great dialogue.

In one of his scenes with you, Jonah is playing this cholo-type gangster. What did you think about his depiction and his Latino accent?

Oh, when he came out with his first line, we all had to hold back our laughter. We could hear people laughing in the background. I just tried to ignore everything. But Jonah did a great job with that. The stuff he came up with was unbelievable. When the directors yelled cut, we would just burst out laughing.

You mentioned that Jonah does a lot of ad-libbing, but I’m assuming the line where he calls you the “Mexican Wolverine” was in the script and your hair was specifically styled for that joke, right?

Actually, no. My character’s name is Scarface. They just wanted me to have a scar on my face. I came up with the idea for my hair. I was like “You know, let’s spike my hair up a little bit” not knowing I was actually looking like Wolverine. Once I got on the set, everyone liked my look, so we left it alone. Sure enough, when Jonah Hill saw it he threw that dialogue in and it stuck. So, now nobody knows me as Scarface. They know me as the Mexican Wolverine!

I’d like to see a Mexican version of “X-Men.”

Yeah, I’ve been getting a lot of feedback. People have been telling me it’s going to be a household name. Hopefully, I’ll be back if they decide to make “23.”

I’m wondering if Hugh Jackman started shaking in his boots when that trailer hit and he saw he had some competition.

(Laughs) That I don’t know. (Laughs) That I don’t know.

22 Jump Street

June 13, 2014 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube
Directed by: Phil Lord and Chris Miller (“21 Jump Street,” “The LEGO Movie”)
Written by:  Michael Bacall (“21 Jump Street”), Oren Urizel (debut) and Rodney Rothman (“Grudge Match”)

At this point it is almost common knowledge that 2012’s big-screen version of “21 Jump Street” should not have worked at all. A comedic spin on a late-‘80s undercover teen crime drama starring a young Johnny Depp, the film starring the schlubby Jonah Hill and the beefcake-y Channing Tatum went on to become a hit with both audiences and critics. With success comes sequels, and when it comes to “22 Jump Street,” what is the approach? In the hands of Hollywood’s hottest directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the answer is a brilliant and hilarious deconstruction of just what a sequel is made of.

Unlike how “Muppets Most Wanted” earlier this year acknowledged the diminishing returns of sequels in an opening number that amounted to the cleverest thing in the whole movie, “22 Jump Street” merely flirts with breaking the fourth wall by camouflaging all of its talk on the nature of sequels in the trappings of another police assignment that happens to resemble their first adventure. This time around, Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) must infiltrate a drug ring at a local college dealing “Whyphy,” a mix of Aderall and Ecstacy responsible for the death of a female student. Along the way, Schmidt and Jenko fall into patterns reminiscent of their first undercover assignment, only this time it’s happening in a college setting.

Much like Lord and Miller’s “The LEGO Movie,” the plot of “22 Jump Street” is merely a framework to hang metatextual jokes and references on. There are no real surprises to be had when it comes to figuring out who the drug dealer is this time around, especially when monologues from Ice Cube’s and Nick Offerman’s police captains basically spell out just how the plot and interpersonal conflicts between Hill and Tatum will unfold. The film is a near-masterpiece of subversion – earned by Lord’s and Miller’s box office pedigree – that would be impressive enough even if the movie wasn’t as funny as it is.

The laughs work on multiple levels, from the pure physical humor of Hill and Tatum, the dim frat-boy antics of Jenko’s new would-be soul mate Zook (Wyatt Russell), or the meta-humor maybe a third of the audience will laugh at, like a reference to red herrings or an over-cranked car chase taking place in front of the Benjamin Hill Film studies building.  Perhaps sensing there’s not much else to wring out of this premise, Lord and Miller button the end of the film up with dozens of clips of would-be sequels. While I’d be fine with this being the curtain call for the Jump Street gang, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to see Hill and Tatum continue their adventures in culinary school or a prestigious dance academy.