21 Jump Street Review
John's Rating: 8.5/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 8.1/10
(4 reviews total)
If you groaned upon hearing the news that the short-lived 1980s detective series 21 Jump Street
was getting a big-screen remake, prepare to be surprised. Not only does this film depart from the series (the latter was a drama, while the former is 100-percent action comedy), but it's also actually good—really good. It's the funniest new film in several years, and it's the official coming out party for Channing Tatum as a genuine comedic star.
Back in 2005, Jenko (Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) were struggling to get through high school. Jenko had the looks, the athleticism and the personality needed to thrive, but he couldn't pass a class to save his life. Schmidt, meanwhile, was without friends and found himself on the receiving end of almost daily humiliation.
Flash forward to the present, and Jenko and Schmidt are together again for their first day of police academy training. Neither has changed much, but they smartly agree that the best way to overcome their weaknesses is together. Unfortunately, their fantasy of an exciting law enforcement career is just that—a fantasy. They ride their bikes around at the park, asking children to stop feeding the ducks. And after their first botched attempt at breaking up a real crime (Jenko couldn't remember the Miranda rights), they are shipped off to the Jump Street undercover unit, where the appropriately named Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) tells them about their new assignment: Go back to high school to infiltrate the dealers and identify the suppliers of a new synthetic drug that has killed a student. But neither man is prepared for the realities of a high-school culture that's changed a great deal since they graduated.
Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
) smartly gloss over most of Jenko's and Schmidt's backstories. While it's certainly amusing to see Jonah Hill decked out like Eminem and Channing Tatum looking a hell of a lot like Chris Klein in Election
, the film is much more interesting when they're goofing around on the force or back in high school with their roles reversed (Schmidt, it turns out, always was popular. He was just born a few years too early).
The film's action is played off cartoonishly—arguably another smart decision. Odds are Lord and Miller aren't going to reinvent the wheel as far as car chases go, so doing them competently, and with a tongue-and-cheek mentality, serves the film quite well. The film's big action set piece about halfway through includes some absolutely brilliant riffs on familiar action tropes. Everything about the film—from these gags to the character trajectory to the ways it references the television series—is just very clever.
Jonah Hill surprised the world last year with his dramatic acting chops in Moneyball
, and it's nice to see him back in familiar territory with this film. He knows the ins and outs of this type of character well (as he should, considering he cowrote the screenplay), and he and Tatum have great chemistry. The Step Up
star is the film's biggest revelation. He keeps up with Hill and the rest of the all-star comedy ensemble (Rob Riggle, Nick Offerman, Ice Cube) with ease. His character is painfully dim, but the actor steals so many scenes that you'll wonder why he hasn't been playing in films like this for years.
If you're looking for a film to compare this one to it's Superbad
. Both films feature hilariously bumbling police officers and a pair of misguided young men trying to navigate the weird and wild world that is modern high school. The difference, of course, is that for 21 Jump Street
, the cops and the high schoolers are the same characters. Jonah Hill's presence in both films only enhances the validity of the comparison, and both film's dirty dialogue and sharp wit would make them a potentially amazing double feature.
It's not terribly hard to see the potential for some viewers to find 21 Jump Street
a little too out-there or over-the-top, but cinematic comedies rarely take as many risks as this film. If safe storytelling and recycled potty humor is your thing, stick with the latest Happy Madison abomination. Real comedy fans, however, should flock to 21 Jump Street
. It's laugh-out-loud hilarious and highly recommended. Rating: 8.5/10
"21 Jump Street
is a broad but uproariously hilarious comedy that is both timely in its genre jabs and in its balls-out stupidly – the good kind that is. Tatum and Hill slip into the oddball pairing with ease and effortlessly play to conventions while crafting a likeable duo of their very own. Tatum is not known for his acting range, but between this and his supporting role in The Dilemma
, I think we have found the genre he should stick to. We know Hill is a funny dude, but Tatum matches him in every scene and together the effect is at times near tear-inducing. With some great pokes at the buddy-cop flick and one of the best “tripping balls” drug sequences in recent memory, 21 Jump Street
is by far the funniest movie of the year." Rating: 8/10
"The world doesn't need another high school or buddy cop movie, and it sure as hell doesn't need another update of a barely remembered pop-cultural oddity from the '80s. So why did mixing all three of these negatives together somehow make 21 Jump Street
the surprise comedy of the season? Probably because it's the most self-aware comedy this year not involving foliage-bound shacks. The script deliberately ignores the usual motions of mismatched partner comedies, instead letting Hill and Tatum get into an easy bro-out groove. Having Hill's Schmidt master what it is to be cool during his second pass through teenage-dom while stranding Tatum's Jenko out his alpha dog element shuffles the established clichés of high school comedies into interesting new combinations. At the same time, it recognizes that high school culture has in fact changed since the jocks and nerds hierarchy of 1985. With a wicked, weird and blessedly filthy sense of humor backing up its unlikely but fantastic leads, 21 Jump Street
tweaks the old formulas with enough verve to create a whole far exceeding the parts." Rating: 8/10
"21 Jump Street
is as monumental of a sendup as has ever been comitted to film. Its mere existence serves us a refreshing dose of Hollywood self-ridicule uncommon in today's movies. The degree of self-awareness in this comedy is uncommon, yet it's totally necessary for the film to work. Most effective is the way the film tears apart high school stereotypes. For some reason, teens are portrayed in film the same as they were in the '60s, but "Jump Street" more accurately reflects today's high school kids — and then makes fun of them. Lord, Miller and writer Bacall offer plenty of immature humor (most of which works), and the self-awareness makes it all cool. The effort to deconstruct every by-the-book type of scene for a high school/action/'80s comedy and say "how can we throw a wrench in this?" earns this one major props." Rating: 8/10
“21 Jump Street” is as monumental of a sendup as has ever been committed to film. It’s mere existence serves us a refreshing dose of Hollywood self-ridicule uncommon in today’s movies.