Dating back to 1989, the United States National Film Preservation Board has added up to 25 films a year to the National Film Registry. The registry’s primary goal is to preserve America’s “cinematic heritage” by establishing a canon of sorts. Inclusions on the list range from the obvious (Citizen Kane in the registry’s first year) to the delightfully surprising (the 1999 Buena Vista Social Club documentary that my brother played ad infinitum when we were younger).
This year’s selections were announced on Tuesday, and featured franchise heavyweights like The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, which completes the original trilogy in the registry. The NFPB also selected personal favorites Wall-E (the best Pixar movie!) and Selena, as well as horror classic A Nightmare on Elm Street and Jonathan Demme’s masterpiece Talking Heads documentary Stop Making Sense.
That is all well and good, and I applaud the film preservation board for their dedication to the moving image. So it is with great regret I must say the NFPB is filled with a bunch of cowardly hacks who disgust me, because, for the seventh year running, they have snubbed 22 Jump Street, one of the greatest artistic efforts to grace the screen:
I think it’s fair to say that Channing Tatum changed the course of cinematic history with those three little words, and it’s about time that the NFPB acknowledged that. Looking at the Library of Congress’s website for registry nominations, we see that the rules for eligibility are that “a film must be at least 10 years old and be culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.'” If we start with the second part of that rule, 22 Jump Street, ahem, jumps to the front of the line. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller cemented their places in directing history by elevating what could have been a cash-grab of a sequel into something transcendent, a self-referential studio comedy that also manages to tell a convincing story of friendship, with a strong dose of consistent character development across both movies.
Also, it’s just fucking hilarious. Jonah Hill screaming “CYN-THEE-AHH” and “Julia..Rob…HURTS…” at a slam poetry reading was a cultural reset, and the ongoing sexual tension between Hill’s Schmidt and Workaholics legend Jillian Bell’s Mercedes culminates in a surprisingly horny fight scene towards the end of the movie. Bell deserves a second mention for her bit throughout the movie about how old Hill is; in a movie that adds Wyatt Russell, Queen Latifah, and Peter Stormare, the former Workaholics legend steals the show:
(If the NFPB wants historical significance, well, the spring break rave-fight scene was a perfect snapshot of 2014. Diplo is involved, for some reason.)
“But Luis,” you might say, “the first part of the rule clearly states that a film must be at least 10 years old before it can be selected!” To that, I say, “Sure, yes, congratulations on your reading comprehension and moral superiority.” But I ask you this: How can these rules apply when the NFPB has never been confronted with a film as sublime as 22 Jump Street? I mean, sure, Fellowship of the Ring has Elijah Wood showing feet prosthetics as he whines about a piece of jewelry. What it doesn’t have is Channing Tatum dancing around police headquarters while yelling “Schmidt fucked the captain’s daughter,” all while Hill and anti-vax stooge Ice Cube sit in awkward silence:
I get that the National Film Registry believes in its solemn duty to pick the most beloved movies of all time. It’s a tough job; there are just so many movies. But there is only one movie, as far as I know, that has a high-speed chase scene featuring a little football helmet car trashing a college campus, and that’s 22 Jump Street.
The board needs to recognize this excellence and amend its bylaws to correct a serious flaw in its registry, and it needs to do it ASAP. Why wait? Why deny this film the rightful place it deserves in the Library of Congress? Society as we know it might not live until 2024, when 22 Jump Street will be come eligible, and future generations of Mad Max-esque scavengers will need to have the ability to watch it on demand while simultaneously scrounging for the dwindling water supplies across the country. Don’t do this for me, NFPB. Do it for our children, so that they may have some laughs in the coming wasteland.