5 Sequel Clichés That 22 JUMP STREET Gave the Finger
Phil Lord and Chris Miller have been building a strong reputation for turning terrible movie ideas that have everything going against them and slapping our low expectations with rebellious enthusiasm and inspired imagination. Now that their talent has raised our expectations, how can they continue to use this approach that’s been successful so far, now that we have gained a strong sense of what they’re capable of creating? Movie history has proven that creating good sequels to comedies is rarely possible to achieve and with that angle, Lord and Miller have found away to fool us all again. There are many examples to choose from how these guys have managed yet again to do the unthinkable and fearlessly take on obstacles and cliches like cinematic gunslingers, below there are five examples of what these guys did to make one of the best comedic sequels in movie history!
1) Accepting that people are going to have expectations, no matter what!
Meeting most people’s expectations is a fool’s errand and an often thankless one at that. The biggest common failure in sequels is feeding their audience more of the same. It is simply ridiculous to complain about not getting the same experience as before and weighing a sequel down with expectations is the immediate recipe for failure. Lord and Miller understood this very well and found a middle ground to cater the audience’s expectations just enough, then completely pull the rug under them at every corner. We all know that sequels are supposed to remind you of the first movie and that’s exactly what 22 Jump Street does, but still manages to end up being different with new jokes and ideas. Zook (Wyatt Russell) being the thorn in Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko’s (Channing Tatum) relationship, by being the mirror image that Jenko becomes drawn to is similar to Schmidt’s attachment to Eric (Dave Franco)in the first film, but putting the shoe on the other foot with Schmidt opens their relationship on a completely different level.
2) Choose a point of view!
Most would agree that the best thing about the first movie is the relationship between Jenko and Schmidt. Instead of burdening themselves with solely focusing on how to take this sequel in a completely alien direction, Lord and Miller knew that building their relationship in a non-cynical way would give this movie heart and though the audience understands the irony of the romantic comedy basis they’re drawing from, the fact that these two are completely oblivious to that matter, creates a sincere development that truly attracts our investment in these characters. With all the self awareness that carries the jokes, there’s enough restraint to allow their relationship growth, which allows us to actually invest in their story.
3) Hit the fourth wall, but don’t break it!
We love to be in on the joke, but it’s really easy to lose an audience if there’s nothing to connect to from a storytelling perspective. There are plenty of suubtle references like nodding to Tatum’s role in White House Down and the dialogue consistently reminds us of how absurd sequels usually are, but neglecting the characters and not giving the audience incentive to care about them, would have been a huge mistake. Even the best spoofs have shown affection for their main characters and telling the audience that there’s nothing they should care about, would not have been a good move. Despite how exaggerated the relationship between Jenko and Schmidt often is, it’s still very real and draws our commitment.
4) There’s nothing wrong with bigger and flashier!
Some staples of cinema have remained traditional for good reasons and making sequels bigger and flashier iis definitely one of them. One of the things I’ve been impressed with most about this directing team so far, is how they have an almost perfect balance of using a punk rock approach to their ideas but maintaining a genuine love for commercial entertainment, that they’re not ashamed of in any way. There’s lots of visual gags and nods in this sequel and one of them is a tribute to Michael Bay’s Bad Boys 2. They have been open about being fans of his as well as other blockbuster filmmakers and there’s quite a bit of Armageddon influence seen in Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs. I haven’t been the biggest supporter of Bay inparticularly, but it’s just one example of their genuine love of movies. There’s no point in making them if you’re not a fan and these two are certainly well rounded movie buffs.
5) Misdirection and the element of surprise.
If anything can damage a promising career before it reaches it’s full potential, it’s predictability. Lord and Miller have been vocal about taking on projects in the near future that don’t have low expectations attached and it’s very exciting to see what these guys will do under close scrutiny. There’s been a common thread in modern culture, where audiences like to put celebrities on pedestals just as fast as they knock them down. All you have to do is look at how American audiences have reacted to Edge Of Tomorrow, to see how they’ll love you and easily forget you. By leading their audiences down familiar paths and rejecting their expectations in defiance, shows that these two aren’t interested in doing the same old song and dance and as long as that burning desire to push against the grain exists, there will be plenty of exciting and unpredictable movies from Lord and Miller in the future.