If you don’t know what 21 Jump Street is before seeing this movie, then welcome to my club. I knew that it was a show back in the 80’s, but I was too young to know what it was. Luckily for me (and for the three of you who are with me), they decided to re-imagine the show and transform it into a 109-minute Hollywood action buddy-cop comedy. As much as I personally hate the buddy cop genre (Hot Fuzz not included), 21 Jump Street took that format, spun it, and made it into one enjoyable experience; regardless of the lack of knowledge I had for the source material.
The film follows Jenko (Channing Tatum, Dear John) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill, Moneyball), two cops who started out as enemies in high school, and are now police officers. After taking down a thug in a park for smoking, the two of them find themselves getting demoted, due to Jenko’s inability to remember and then tell the perp his miranda rights. Because of how young these two cops look, they get sent down to 21 Jump Street; an abandoned Asian church that is now a place for undercover cops to go to. What is Jenko and Schmidt’s job? To go undercover as students in a high school to bring down a deadly drug ring.
Of course, this brings up problems for both of them. For Jenko, who was the popular one during his youth, now has to adjust his notions of being liked to how these hipster kids perceive it – they will shuns you for intolerance towards important causes like the environment or recycling. For Schmidt, he wants to make this stint in high school be better than his years of being bullied. Of course, because of his understanding of things, he fits in with the popular kids pretty well, and eventually falling for the 18 year-old student Molly (Brie Larson, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World). So how do these two try to fit in? By blending in – which means drinking, partying, and taking drugs to try to blend in. You know, like most high schoolers have to do.
Firstly, how can anyone believe that Channing Tatum is a high schooler? I can still see Hill, whether bigger or not, as a high schooler here, but Tatum? Really?
Besides that little bump in the road, 21 Jump Street is incredibly funny. Written by Michael Bacall (Scott Pilgrim) and Jonah Hill himself, the script is full of drug humor, follicle jokes, and making fun of stereotypes that are used in lots of movies in the same vein. With false explosions and other little hijinks thrown in there, it makes for a really enjoyable experience.
And what makes it more enjoyable, for me at least, are all the cameos and co-stars that are thrown in. Where do I start…Nick Offerman, Ice Cube, Rob Riggle, Jake M. Johnson, DeRay Davis, Dave Franco, and Ellie Kemper fill in the rest of the cast – each one bringing some awesome moments throughout the movie. The ending (which has two others who I did not mention) had myself and everyone else cracking up, as it is just one of those memorable cameos that makes the whole film that much more memorable.
After watching the trailer, I wanted to write this film off as just another dumb high school comedy. Also, I was feeling a little bit of Tatum-fatigue (he’s in Haywire and The Vow, both out now). But instead of those two preconceived notions floating through my head the entire movie, I found myself really enjoying my time at the movies. Both Hill and, surprising Tatum, have moments of both action star awesomeness and comedy gold throughout, making the movie one of the funniest things I’ve seen all year. Through the time of watching Oscar-nominated movies, it’s always nice to sit back and laugh.
Final Grade: B+
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