Reel Critics: '22 Jump Street' mostly by the numbers

The sequel comedy "22 Jump Street" is as rude, crude and ridiculous as the rowdy original. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum revise their roles as bumbling undercover cops. Once again, they are sent into a school to employ their incompetent methods to track down dealers selling drugs to students.

This time around, the setting is a college rather than a high school. Raucous frat parties and immature behavior create several opportunities for bawdy jokes. Lots of R-rated shenanigans follow from the predictable but silly cop/buddy plot. There are some raunchy laughs, but many jokes miss the mark.

Various riffs on gay lifestyle issues are front and center. The bromance between the two cops takes up much of the humor, striving to be politically correct. In the end, this effort is as simplistic and stupid as "21 Jump Street." But it will please the target audience that enjoys this type of lowbrow entertainment.

—John Depko


'Cold' generates heat

In "Cold in July," a married couple is awakened in the dead of night by an intruder in their East Texas home. Richard (Michael C. Hall) nervously gets his handgun from the closet, and before we know it, a man is shot dead in their living room.

Richard is hailed by the sheriff and locals as a hero, but he's pretty shaken and wants to know more about the man he killed. The dead man's father, Russell, just released from prison, begins stalking Richard and his family in ways that will fill every parent's heart with dread.

What starts out as a crazed dad out for revenge takes an even darker tone as we learn more about Russell (Sam Shepard) and his dead son, Freddy, whom he hadn't seen in years.

As crazy as it sounds, Richard, Russell and his private investigator buddy Jim Bob (Don Johnson) form a cold-blooded alliance to right some very evil wrongs.

There are about as many plot holes as twists, but they're overshadowed by the terrific lead performances.

Johnson, first seen in a red convertible as big as Texas, brings his welcome smart-ass energy to every scene. Shepard is an enigma right up to the end. Hall (of "Dexter" fame) is equally subtle as a family man whose conscience is put to the ultimate test.

"July" is moody and fascinating with its shadows and deep crimson pools of blood — or, as my dad used to say, "lots of ketchup." Fans of pulpy thrillers will love it.

—Susanne Perez

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator. SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.

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