“Exactly like last time.”

It’s a mantra repeated early and often in 22 Jump Street, the hilariously self-aware sequel to the 2012 hit comedy. In the film, undercover cops Jenko and Schmidt (Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill) are saying it in reference to their new mission– infiltrating a college to discover the source of a dangerous drug. More than that, though, it’s a nod and a wink to the audience, letting us know that everyone involved is well aware that it’s the same story with the same stars; in fact, that one digit in the title is pretty much all that’s changed.

Hollywood’s golden-boy directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie) have returned to Jump Street to once again bring us a riotous buddy-cop movie that is easily the funniest thing to hit theaters so far this year; and I can’t imagine there’s much in the queue that has the comedic chops to unseat it.

Posing as brothers attending MC State, Jenko and Schmidt quickly find themselves in different worlds. Jenko fits in like a glove, rushing a fraternity and being wooed by the football team. Schmidt, though, discovers he’s an outsider, able to only fit in (barely) with the oddball art students.

Aided by a brilliant supporting cast, including Peter Stormare, Ice Cube, Wyatt Russell (son of Kurt), and Jillian Bell, Tatum and Hill deliver laughs that demonstrate how much they’ve perfected their comic timing with each other, and their bromance is stronger than ever.

Of course, having the razor-sharp of screenwriter Michael Bacall (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) back for another go-round helps, too. Alongside the “conventional” humor you expect, 22 Jump Street is gloriously littered with all manner of meta comedy, including a brilliant scene with Jenko and Schmidt’s boss (Nick Offerman), where “sequels” are brutally disparaged.

After the ho-hum “comedy” of recent failures like Blended and A Million Ways to Die in the West, being treated to a bona fide laugh-fest like 22 Jump Street reminds you that (thankfully) there are still people out there who know how it’s done.

5/5 stars