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Tom Cruise in a scene from ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ which collected $16.2mn in the US and $37.4 mn at international. (AP)
Chu frontrunner to direct ‘Now You See Me 2’ Inspired comic chemistry in ‘22’

Things are always worse the second time around, the deputy police chief warns the buddy-cop team of Jenko and Schmidt in “22 Jump Street.” He’s talking about their next assignment, but of course, it’s an inside joke — with the audience. “22 Jump Street,” starring the inspired comic duo of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, is a sequel, and movie sequels are indeed often worse (especially when, as the chief also points out, the budget’s bigger the second time around.)

Self-referential jokes aside, things aren’t worse the second time around for Hill, Tatum and directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. It’s fine to make fun of sequels — and this movie does, all the way to a fabulous ending-credits bit that steals the film — when you know you’ve made a pretty darned good one yourself. Not that this film is perfect — some jokes go too far, or too long, or both, and one running gag involving prison sex is gratuitous, ill-advised, unfunny, and, well, we’d say more but three adjectives are enough. Many more jokes, though — spoken and visual — succeed beautifully.

And the cast? It’s a pretty heavenly group, anchored of course by Hill and Tatum, who have a Laurel-and-Hardy-like implausible chemistry that keeps you laughing pretty much no matter what they’re doing. If you never saw “21 Jump Street,” no worries — the filmmakers bring you up to speed fast. The last film saw Jenko (Tatum) and Schmidt (Hill) go undercover to high school. This time, it’s college they’re ordered to infiltrate, to thwart a nasty drug ring. (“I’m the first person in my family to pretend to go to college,” Jenko says proudly.)

It’s part of the joke that the pasty, pudgy Schmidt, especially, hardly looks college-age and doesn’t really try, despite his need to blend in. “Tell us about the war — Any of them,” one student, Mercedes (a terrific Jillian Bell), says to him mockingly. Even less plausible than Schmidt being an undergrad: that the exquisitely gorgeous art major Maya, Mercedes’ roommate (Amber Stevens), would somehow hook up with him, when he’s nothing but bumbling in her presence. But, as they say in college, whatever. Maybe she’s blown away by his (terrible, and very funny) attempt at slam poetry. The college setting provides its usual comic fodder, starting with a cute montage involving things you need to live in college dorms: Popup laundry hampers, bean-bag chairs, lava lamps, shower poofs, a bacon machine (don’t ask.) There’s also the obligatory frat house, which sets up the amusing BFF relationship between studly Jenko and studly frat leader Zook (Wyatt Russell, who brings to mind a younger Owen Wilson.) Jenko bonds easily with Zook, who lures him onto the football team, where Jenko succeeds dramatically. The two bond so well that Jenko and Schmidt have a sort of buddy-cop breakup. “Maybe we should, you know, investigate other people,” Jenko tells a wounded Schmidt.

But the guys need to crack the drug case — money’s running out, according to their supervising captain, Dickson, played by Ice Cube in a humorous performance that seethes all kinds of rage — professional, personal, you name it. And so, tracking down the villains, we eventually arrive in — of course, Mexico, for spring break! There, watch for a weirdly hilarious fistfight between Schmidt and one of the characters we’ve mentioned earlier. It’s one of the film’s best scenes, but no scene in the film proper rivals the closing credits — a sendup of sequels which includes its own notable celebrity cameo and is alone worth the price of admission.

Will there be a “23 Jump Street”? If things are always worse the second time, wouldn’t they be even worse the third? With Lord and Miller’s track record, that’s hardly a given. “22 Jump Street,” a Columbia Pictures release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America “for language throughout, sexual content, drug material, brief nudity and some violence.” Running time: 112 minutes. Three stars out of four.

Having just wrapped “Jem and the Holograms,” Jon M. Chu has emerged as the frontrunner to direct “Now You See Me 2” for Summit Entertainment, multiple individuals familiar with the sequel have told TheWrap. A representative for Chu did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco and Mark Ruffalo are all expected to return for the sequel to last year’s sleeper hit, which grossed more than $350 million worldwide and displayed staying power throughout a competitive summer. Original “Now You See Me” director Louis Leterrier will not return for the sequel.

Written by Edward Ricourt & Boaz Yakin and Ed Solomon, “Now You See Me” pit an elite FBI squad in a game of cat and mouse against “The Four Horsemen,” a super-team of the world’s greatest illusionists. “The Four Horsemen” pull off a series of daring heists against corrupt business leaders during their performances, showering the stolen profits of their audiences while staying one step ahead of the law. “Now You See Me” was produced by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Bobby Cohen via their Kurtzman Orci Paper Products production banner, and executive produced by Yakin, Michael Schaefer and Stan Wlodkowski. Chu, who directed three “Step Up” sequels, two Justin Bieber documentaries and “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” remains attached to direct “G.I. Joe 3.” He recently directed “Jem and the Holograms” for Blumhouse. Chu is represented by WME, Principato-Young Entertainment and attorney Allison Binder.

Kristen Wiig is set to make her directorial debut with an untitled TriStar comedy she will write with her “Bridesmaids” collaborator Annie Mumolo, and the duo are also set to star, TheWrap has learned. “I’ve been wanting to direct for some time now. This seems like the perfect first project,” Wiig told the New York Times. Set in Vista Del Mar, the film will follow two “best friends who find themselves in over their heads and out of their depths,” with hilarious hijinx expected to ensue. “Kristen and Annie assured me that the film will be a searing and depressing drama, which is what the world needs right now,” TriStar chairman Tom Rothman joked to the Times.

Rothman also credited Wiig for help to shake-up a traditionally male-dominated industry, particularly within the comedy world. “Everybody talks about it needing to change, but Kristen actually wants to do something about it,” he told the Times. Wiig and Mumola received an Oscar nomination for their original screenplay for “Bridesmaids,” which grossed nearly $300 million worldwide before going on to become a huge hit on DVD. The writing team told the Times they waited to reteam because they “wanted it to be the right time and the right idea, and both of those elements have come together.” Wiig next stars in Craig Johnson’s Sundance dramedy “The Skeleton Twins,” while Mumola wrote David O. Russell’s upcoming drama “Joy,” which will star Jennifer Lawrence as Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano. (Agencies)

By Jocelyn Noveck

By: Jocelyn Noveck

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