I Saw A Film Today… 21 Jump Street

Making presumptions about films is something I try to avoid. But it’s something you can’t really avoid though. I mean, when you see a preview for Bucky Larson pop up during an advert break, you have already decided “yeah, this is stupid”. I basically felt the same way about 21 Jump Street. It just looked like another popular 80’s show turned into another mediocre film. But the great thing about making negative assumptions is the rare chance to be proven wrong. Emphasis on rare.

******

Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are two very different people. Schmidt is a mousey guy who’s smart and not physically fit. Jenko is dense but eye candy for the ladies. They do have one thing in common: they’re both immature and went to high school together.

A few years later, the two are still struggling to pass classes. This time though they’re struggling to become officers of the law. Over time the two become friends and while helping each other with the others weaknesses, the two graduate as partners.

But things don’t pan out the way they expected as they are assigned to bike duty. And after a failed drug bust, both are bumped down to an undercover program on Jump Street run by the foul-mouthed Captain Dickson (Ice Cube).

The plan for the two inept officers is simple: use their young looks to infiltrate a synthetic drug ring in a high school. But a lot has changed in the years since they graduated and now the roles Jenko and Schmidt are accustomed to have reversed. Will they be able to shut down the operation and keep their friendship intact?

21 Jump Street  surprisingly ended up being everything you want from an “adult” comedy. And by adult comedy, I mean it has a lot of grown-up elements in it. It’s a film that is decidedly not grown-up. It’s peppered with jokes about penises every five minutes. But for all this brash language and action, you actually get a rather sweet and sincere comedy.

It is also really smart. It is self-aware that it’s another film that is a remake of something from the 80’s. It even blatantly points it out in one scene with the brilliant Mr. Nick Offerman. It’s also aware of some of the more ridicules elements to the story. The action is sloppy and just a bit dull but everything else about this is pretty solid.

In the past, I have not always been kind to Mr. Tatum. In fact, in my review of Haywire I said “How this man still gets jobs as an actor amazes me.” But maybe I spoke soon because he may have found his calling in comedy of all things. His dead-pan comedy is, simply, great. Take note sir.

As for Jonah Hill, I don’t really think I’ve fully appreciated his comedic talents until this movie. His timing is impeccable, even in his most manic moments. The rest of the cast is great as well. James Franco’s younger brother Dave is, well, annoying. But that’s what his character is supposed to be. Rob Riggle is basically the same Rob you’ve seen him as in anything else. And a little cameo near the end of the film is great little treat. Not going to spoil it for you but I’m sure you can guess who they are.

21 Jump Street is the biggest surprise of the year so far. And I mean that in a good way.

Verdict: SEE IT!

*Rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, drug material, teen drinking and some violence.

**Special thank you to Marla “Marv” Joy for sharing this cinematic adventure with me.

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