NEW YORK – The cast and crew of “22 Jump Street” have done something quite remarkable. They have taken a successful comedy that spoofed the idea of turning a TV show into a movie and made an even better sequel that spoofs the idea of, well, sequels. Audiences are already hyped to see “22” based on the trailers and TV spots, but they have no idea just how smart the expected blockbuster really is. Who says the summer movie season can't have a happy surprise or two?
Last Friday I spoke to stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum about the second “Jump Street” movie, but my first question sidetracked the conversation just a tad. Having been able to experience Bennett Miller's new drama “Foxcatcher” last month at Cannes I had to ask Hill if he had any awards season advice for his good friend and co-star who, along with Steve Carell, has earned rave reviews. Yes, it's only June and Tatum is already in the awards mix for his performance as real-life Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz. Hill, who earned his first Oscar nomination working with Miller on “Moneyball” and a second this past January for “The Wolf of Wall Street,” is already excited for Tatum.
“I was in Los Angeles when the first review came in and Amy Pascal who runs the studio, Sony who makes 'Jump Street' and is releasing 'Foxcatcher' sent me this going home, 'You've got to read this' cause they know Channing and Bennett are good friends of mine,” Hill says. “And I ran around screaming and calling them' and then immediately after I was like, 'Oh, the journey these guys are about to go on is going to e so incredible and interesting. It made me happy two people I love so much from different parts of my life made a film together that is so awesomely received.”
Tatum, on the other hand, is still trying to take in the reaction to “Foxcatcher” knowing its U.S. release is still months away. He notes, “Obviously we get to have fun and celebrate this movie. You are only the second person who has actually seen the movie besides my parents.”
[He's obviously joking, half the global press and many U.S. critics have seen it, but in general, the North American premiere whether at Telluride or Toronto is still months away.]
As for the other great movie Tatum's in this year, Hill says they were able to balance the comedy with the meta aspects of the story because “it is such a terrible idea to turn a TV show into a movie.” In fact, that's how Hill got the “Magic Mike” star on board the first installment and Tatum recalls thinking, “You just made me laugh by pitching me a terrible movie.”
As for “22,” Hill knows that in theory it's an even more terrible idea.
“The thing that is challenging to me with this is that everything I do is based on being super honest and real. With acting and everything,” Hill says. “The idea that you are being meta about something almost takes it into spoof territory. The idea you can make a movie with real characters and a story, but then still wink at the camera. If that can happen? That's a really tricky line to cross.”
And happily for Hill, Tatum and directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller they crossed that line safe and sound.
For more from Hill and Tatum on “Foxcatcher” and “22 Jump Street” watch the interview embedded at the top of this post.
“22 Jump Street” opens nationwide on Friday. “Foxcatcher” opens on Nov. 14.