NEW ORLEANS, LA. It's nearly noon on the set of "22 Jump Street" and the star of the scene is laying flattened on the turf at Tad Gormley Stadium just outside of New Orleans, immobile. Dozens of extras, clad in football uniforms, look away.
A man in a Saints shirt hovers above the featured player, taking in the decapitation and the splattered insides with growing frustration.
"Is there any way of making it so that it doesn't fall apart?" he laments.
The man is a second [or possibly third] unit cinematographer and he's currently facing the difficult challenge of a thespian who clearly isn't ready for his close-up, in this case a roast beef sandwich that refuses to catch the light in the right way. Maybe it's the glare off the lettuce or maybe it's the lifeless meat, but effort is being put into capturing the fumbled sandwich just right. There's a stunt sandwich off to the side, currently in one piece but ready to take the dive if necessary. There's a Coke cup that keeps being used for lighting reference.
The disarrayed sandwich is a key part of the "22 Jump Street" scene a group of reporters is observing on this morning. Like many of the jokes in the franchise, it's a largely improvised conversation that takes a long journey to a very meta punchline that will make certain savvy viewers chuckle, but could very well get lost in a barrage of rapid-fire bits. But great care is being taken. See, Channing Tatum's Jenko and Wyatt Russell's Benji bump into each other at open football tryouts and if certain elements aren't visible in the insert, the laughs may get lost as well.
Over at video village, this produces its own sight gag. The first monitor features actual human stars Tatum and Russell warming up with a football. The second monitor features the aforementioned extras doing basic drills as an instructor talks them through their paces. And the third monitor features a tight close-up on a sandwich, bread splayed dangerously far from fillings.
Trust me, it's a funny juxtaposition.
In "22 Jump Street," which takes Jenko and Jonah Hill's Schmidt to college for their latest undercover caper, Russell -- You might know his parents Kurt and Goldie -- plays the quarterback of MC State [Metropolitan State] football team, the Statesmen.