Movie Review: ’21 Jump Street’
Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Rob Riggle, Ice Cube, Ellie Kemper, DeRay Davis
Plot: Jenko and Schmidt found themselves on the opposite ends of the social spectrum in high school, but when they join the police academy and become partners their different strengths and weaknesses compliment each other. Due to their youthful appearances and immature behaviour they get assigned to Jump Street, a unit that specializes in infiltrating teenage culture to solve crime. Jenko and Schmidt find themselves going back to school.
Review: Taking a very, very 80’s television show and adapting it to a modern is not one that appeals. Most things that existed in the late 1980s should be left there, even if they did kick-start the career of Johnny Depp. Retooling the concept as a wacky comedy basing most of it’s jokes around swearing and obvious fish out of water routines doesn’t make it sound any more interesting. In fact it sounds downright awful. So why was it so entertaining?
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum may not be redefining the meaning of comedy but they bounce off each other well and have pretty good timing. Some of the dialogue is crude but imaginative enough to be funny, and the physical routines also hit the mark (such as talking to the school coach while tripping out). Seeing this jock and nerd return to high school only to find that their roles have reversed provides a surprisingly on the nose commentary about how much teenage values and attitudes have changed over the decades. It was when the they first arrive and can’t put a name to the Hipsters and Cos-Players as easily as they can the Goths and Nerds that we start to wake up to the fact that there’s some good writing behind the film.
The story is nothing to write home about – Jenko and Schmidt are tasked with uncovering the people behind the distribution of a new drug that has already claimed one student. In terms of flow the movie stutters quite a bit, with major plot threads often taking a back seat to goofiness and stand alone scenes. Characters drop out and return at different intervals, meaning that some potential comedy is left untapped. The prime example is Ellie Kemper as the science teacher making advances on a student, something that could’ve had many more jokes wrung out of it.
Hill and Tatum are aptly supported by a talented supporting cast, with Brie Larson particularly good as the love interest for Hill. She’s one of the few characters who break stereotype and she plays a strangely well rounded role given the material. Still, the comedic high point comes not from the story or the characters but one of the most brilliant twists ever committed to film. It’s one of the most surprising and surreal moments in any comedy and the strange part is when it dawns on the viewer that it’s been in play since the beginning of the film.
Seriously, if you don’t know what the twist is do NOT let anyone tell you. It doesn’t make a difference to the story or the character arcs, but it’s so damn funny it earned this movie an extra star.
Score: EIGHT outta TEN
I was shocked to find this movie absolutely HILARIOUS. Their bro-mance montage in the beginning was somehow just as heartwarming as the one in Up! And the jock/nerd role-reversal was PERFECT. Channing Tatum completely won me over forever with this movie.
“F*$& YOU, SCIENCE!”
I was very surprised at this movie, too. Neither the actors nor the genre are really my usual cup of tea, and I only watched it because a family member rented it. The first few scenes where they return to high school was definitely where it secured my interest. What’s this? A high school comedy that actually understands how high school works nowaday? Witchcraft!
In fact, thinking about it now I see you’re right about some of the lost potential here. I enjoyed it, but I still don’t really see it as a movie worth going out of my way to rewatch – and that would change, I think, if they reworked some of the focus. Spent a little more time on the way high schoolers have changed, an actual ending to the teacher-crush plot, a little less crudeness, etc. The overall impression it left was very good, but it just missed the mark on how amazing it could have been.
I really enjoyed this – didn’t expect to. I think some of what appealed to me was how aware it is, especially in terms of high school nowadays, and I loved the cop explaining Jump Street to them. The twist at the end was brilliant! Worked really well, and just topped off what I thought was a decent film.
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