NEW YORK — The comic duo of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill began with an intentionally bad idea.
Hill called up Tatum: “So I have this probably terrible idea, but I want to see if you’re interested,” he said. Adapting the 1980s TV show “21 Jump Street” was the pitch, and Tatum couldn’t resist Hill’s anti-sell.
The movie, a send-up of TV show adaptations while at the same time being one, was a hit. Now, Hill and Tatum are back this week with “22 Jump Street,” directed (like the first) by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the maestros of turning shallow conceits (“The Lego Movie”) into self-reflexive satire.
Beginning with a “previously on” clip reel and ending with a slew of mock sequel teasers, “22 Jump Street” again showcases Tatum and Hill’s rapport in a self-aware comedy that sends up sequel-making and dissolves into such absurdity that, one point, it literally turns into “The Benny Hill Show.”
In a recent interview, Hill and Tatum reflected on their partnership in parody and what Hill calls “the most difficult week of my life.”
AP: Did you know early on how good your chemistry together was?
Hill: I think we got lucky. We knew we would get along, but also the way we interact is luckily funny. It makes us laugh. I think it makes other people enjoy watching us hang out. When we’re on set and we’re hanging out and laughing, I can see people smiling.
Tatum: I definitely went into this, more than most films, with zero, zero ego. I was very insecure about trying to go do a comedy. I was just sort of like: “Tell me what to do.”
AP: You guys might seem quite different, but you overlap in many ways. You both have terrible things done to you in “This Is the End.”
Tatum: It was like 2 in the morning — they must have still been shooting — and I hear my email go off. I pick up my phone for whatever reason. I never do this. I don’t email with Seth (Rogen), but it’s Seth and he’s like, “Don’t be mad at me. We’re sitting here and we have a crazy idea for a cameo for you that involves you, Danny McBride, a retractable dog leash and a Mexican wrestling mask.” And I was like, “I’m in.”
AP: In the time you’ve been making the “Jump Street” movies, your careers have both exploded.
Tatum: When (Hill) got nominated (for “The Wolf of Wall Street”), it was so insanely … I felt like I got nominated. I’m not even kidding. It was one of those, like, “YES!”