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21 Jump Street

A movie directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller

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  • Apr 2, 2012
Rating:
+3
*** out of ****

"21 Jump Street" is one of those comedies - one of those good, honest, thoroughly funny comedies - that appeals to at least two generations and treats them as its target audience. In this case, it's the adults and the older teens; and the title of the film will most likely mean something to the former and not the latter. In case you didn't know, "21 Jump Street" was a popular crime drama series that ran from 1987 to 1991. It's probably best known for kick-starting the career of Hollywood superstar Johnny Depp (who has a very loving and clever cameo appearance near the end of the film), although once it was done, it kind of faded from the memories of most people; even those who loyally followed and watched it during its short - but much enjoyed - run. Now, we have this new film adaptation; which changes the style and genre to comedy - but keeps the crime aspect - and fast forwards to present day, thus giving us entirely new characters. It seems like a balsy move, but with skilled filmmakers like Phil Lord and Chris Miller sitting in the director's chair(s), the results are satisfying and energetic.

The new characters are plentiful, but the central heroes come in two's. They are Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum). They've known each-other since their high school years - Schmidt was a nerd with blonde hair meant to make him look cool, Jenko was a popular jock who liked to push Schmidt around every chance he got - but all the same, the two end up re-uniting at the same Police Academy. Nothing has changed. Schmidt still has the brains; Jenko is still failing every test that's thrown at him. Regardless of their not-so-fondly-remembered memories of the years spent in the same High School - on opposite ends of the spectrum - they decide to become friends and make it through the Academy together. And so they do.

But one day while out on the job, it becomes apparent that Jenko still does not know his Miranda rights. Because of this, he and Schmidt are re-assigned to a recently revived top secret division located on 21 Jump Street. Upon arriving, the Captain (Ice Cube) tells them why they are there (in a Korean church, no less), and what their job is. Apparently, there is a new synthetic drug being passed around and consumed by the current students of the high school that Jenko and Schmidt attended all those years ago. They've been chosen to go under cover, posing as students, to locate the dealers and ultimately the supplier; and to do that, they must blend in. They pass as High School-age men, so this shouldn't be too big of a problem.

However, it would seem that the rules have changed. The pair arrives at the school, ready to assume the position that they once upholder during their initial years, but instead their roles are reversed. Jenko must adapt to the AP Chemistry environment and make friends with the top students in order to perhaps get some insider information - thus landing him a spot in the "nerd crowd" - and this time around, Schmidt gets to party it up with the preps. It's within this crowd that he meets the standard comedy love-interest; a pretty blonde by the name of Molly (Brie Larson), who attends a drama class with him. She has a boyfriend, but more sparks fly between her and Schmidt, clearly. Soon, the "message" of the film kicks in; High School drama still exists in the adult world, and it might interfere with their assignment. Also, their emotions get the best of them (Schmidt screwed up the first time around and never went to the prom with the girl of his dreams), and in the end, they'll have to attend the High School prom. However, this proves to be more eventful than one might expect; the night is wild, enthralling, and outrageous.

Directors Lord and Miller were responsible for the well-animated and cleverly-written pseudo-adaptation of "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs". Their transition from animation to live action proves successful; as they're able to avoid taking the detour down the "live action cartoon" route, yet they're still able to make good use of some hilarious visual gags. It helps that Tatum and Hill have pitch-perfect on-screen chemistry; which makes the raunchy flavor that embeds the film's comedy go down much easier than one might imagine. It's funny, and the character relationships are believable, so it's never annoyingly crass. Nor do I imagine it will offend many people; since it doesn't go out of its way to be as rude and vulgar as it is. Long story short, it never quite relies on shock value; even when we get a close-up view of a severed penis near the end.

The film could have tried a little harder when it came to balancing action with comedy. It HAS balance - which is more than I can say for most comedies - but where there are guns, there are also bikers, explosions, and high-speed car chases; and in all honesty, the film doesn't do anything special with such elements, thus rendering them slightly unnecessary. Still, I'm not complaining; and this is a really fun movie. It is very well-cast, and surprisingly funny throughout; with Tatum emerging as a comic actor to watch in the future. It would seem that he's finally found his appropriate role in the world of cinema; he was once an actor who tried to approach dramatic roles more often than others, but I feel this is his true calling. I wish more comedies were like this; the comic timing is genius, the jokes are almost always worthy of my laughter, and the aforementioned Johnny Depp cameo might just go down in history. Leave your brains at home, because "21 Jump Street" simply wants to entertain; and that's exactly what it does. Nothing more, nothing less; it's just a good time, period.

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April 03, 2012
I really enjoyed this movie! Saved my movie-watching weekend after I saw The Hunger Games--this was a lot of fun! Nice write up.
 
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More 21 Jump Street (2012 film) reviews
review by . March 26, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Ok, let’s get some things out of the way. Usually comedies are a low priority for me to see in theaters. Why? Because they are usually more fun to see with a lot of pizza and beer. I am not too fond of Channing Tatum. Why? I dunno, I never cared for the roles he played save for “The Eagle”. Jonah Hill I can do with, after all, I need to see him in a role after he had lost all that weight. I am also not fond of movies that revamps a TV show, I mean they try to sneak this shit up …
review by . March 16, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
For all my readers who are unsure of where this movie came from you may not be able to appreciate Nice Offerman's role. As the police captain for rookie cops Schmidt and Jenko, played by Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum respectively, he tells them the department is reviving a program they used back in the eighties. This is just one of the many nods to both the industry and the source material. It was also one of the many laugh out loud moments of this movie. It is easy to be suspect of a movie …
review by . March 29, 2012
I don't laugh during movies, which is why I was surprised I had to wipe my eyes from laughing so hard during the entire movie.  Jonah Hill is absolutely fantastic and Channing Tatum seems like he took some serious acting classes.  This is one of those movies where you will be able to watch over and over and quote for life.  I think this has to go into my top 5 funniest movies I've seen next to A Christmas Story and Step Brothers.  This movie is definitely worth …
review by . March 17, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         21 Jump Street treads on thin ice in an early scene where it’s explained that the police department has revived a specialty division that started in the 1980s, that it’s part of a trend of resurrecting and modernizing old programs due to a lack of original ideas, and that they’re hoping the public won’t notice. Nothing threatens to ruin a movie faster than winking at the audience in a showy display of self-referential humor. …
review by . March 16, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Back in 1987, the fledgling Fox Network debuted, offering entertainment on Saturday and Sunday evenings aimed at a younger audience. One of the network’s first breakout shows was a police drama with young cops and plenty of action, a show named 21 Jump Street. The show featured a cast of largely unknowns who quickly bolted to overnight notoriety, most notably its star Johnny Depp who, much to his chagrin, became a pinup boy and sex symbol for the show. The show mixed humor, action, and romance. …
review by . March 13, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
'21 Jump Street' 'Two Jews On Film' One Laughs Alot...The Other Laughs...Not So Much (Video)
         By Joan Alperin Schwartz      What would you do if you had the chance to go back to high school and do it all over again?   Well, two bumbling rookie cops, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) get that chance when they're assigned to the long time dormant 21 Jump Street unit led by the perpetually pissed off Captain Dickson (Ice Cube)      Their mission:  Go back to …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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