The issue with being a surprise hit is that you can only be a surprise once.
When 21 Jump Street came out in 2012, it did so with no hype. The TV show on which it was based was barely remembered; Channing Tatum was the guy from romcoms and GI Joe, not the beloved man he is now; directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller had only a cartoon under their belts, and Jonah Hill was a sidekick, not a leading man. Then it was a huge box-office hit and one of the year’s best-reviewed comedies.
On the New Orleans set of the sequel, the mood is buoyant, but the boys know they’re not coming in under the radar this time. “There’s expectation now,” says Hill, taking a break from a hilarious improvised scene. “But that’s OK. It was so much fun we couldn’t wait to come back.” And they’ve found a spin to match the first. “The first time we made fun of ourselves for recycling an old idea and being unoriginal. This time we thought it would be funny to make fun of ourselves for doing a sequel.”
In 22 Jump Street, cops Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) have moved on from posing as teenagers to bust a high-school drug ring. Now they’re doing the same thing in college, where Jenko becomes a sports star. Being a sequel, there is larger scale and more action. Them’s the rules. “The other day I was riding on the top of a truck going 60mph. So I’ve had my Matrix 2 moment,” laughs Tatum.
Fingers crossed it’s the only comparison to that sequel.
22 Jump Street is at cinemas nationwide from 6 June