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