Review: 21 Jump Street
PLOT: Two bumbling cops (Jonah Hill & Channing Tatum) are assigned to the 21 Jump Street unit, which sends them back to high school, undercover, in order to take down a drug ring.
REVIEW: Of the horde of big-screen redo's of one-time TV hits, who'd have thought 21 JUMP STREET would be the one to get it right? Looking back at the show now, it's pretty obvious that 21 JUMP STREET was a pretty damn terrible show- even for the late eighties, even if it did give us the undeniably great Johnny Depp (and to a much, MUCH lesser extent, Richard Grieco). Obviously, writer/producer/star Jonah Hill knew that going in, and it turns out, turning the show- which was unintentionally funny in the first place, into a comedy was an inspired move.
In the reboot, cops Hill and Channing Tatum are not only partners, but also former high school enemies, with Tatum having been the ass-hole jock, and Hill being a doofus sporting an Eminem haircut and dye-job. Cut to seven year later, the two are now best buds straight out of police academy, and so awful at their jobs that they're sent to the jokey Jump Street unit- headed by a funny Ice Cube, playing a clever take-off on the stereotypical angry black captain (no doubt channelling the great Frank McRae).
In a clever twist, their roles end up getting reversed, with Hill's sensitive guy schtick fitting in with the tolerant, indie music loving cool kids, and Tatum's jock routine making HIM the outcast. This was a truly inspired move, as not only does it give Hill a lot to chew on with him getting hilariously caught up in the cool high-school clique (complete with a student love-interest, played by an appealing Brie Larson), but it also gives Channing Tatum the role of his life, with him displaying serious comic chops as the idiotic wannabe bad-ass that had me in stitches right from the start.
Tatum absolutely NAILS his part here, with his dead-pan delivery, and muscle-man good looks fitting the part to a tee. Who'd of thought the guy could be so funny? All of sudden, I find myself liking the guy- although, to be fair to Tatum, he's been improving for awhile now, thanks to movies like HAYWIRE. Together, Hill and Tatum's odd-couple pairing is pretty textbook buddy-cop action flick, and there are a couple of funny nods to that, including a TANGO & CASH-style high-five, and a hilarious freeway chase, where the guys keep expecting shit to blow up.
Supporting the fellas, we get Dave Franco, who's been everywhere on Funny Or Die lately, as the hipster drug dealer in way over his head, and he's aces throughout. THE OFFICE/BRIDESMAIDS fans will get a kick out of Ellie Kemper's cameo as Tatum's amorous Chemistry teacher, as will PARKS AND RECREATION fans with Nick Offerman showing up in a small part. I also have to point out a couple of cameos that come towards the end that, while not unexpected, absolutely brought the house down at the screening of this I checked out, and stand as the best walk-ons since Hugh Jackman told Magneto and Professor X to f**k off in X-MEN- FIRST CLASS.
While I would have never expected 21 JUMP STREET to successfully make the jump to the big screen, it can't be denied that it's a pretty damn entertaining film. Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller infuse this with the same energy and quirky irreverence that they brought to CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS (which is one of the better non-Pixar CGI films to come out in a bit), making their transition to live-action pretty damn successful. Even the inevitable action-heavy climax, usually the kiss of death to a film like this, actually works really well, with the R-rating allowing them to throw in some goofy eighties hallmarks like ridiculously over-the-top squibs, and novelty wounds.
I really had a blast with 21 JUMP STREET, and with each successive film, Hill's proving himself to be an exceptionally talented guy. To me, this feels like a real crowd-pleaser, and hopefully it'll score big enough so that we can get another instalment of what has the chance to be a really funny and fresh comedy-action franchise.
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|Extra Tidbit:||Keep your eyes peeled for the SWAT poster decorating Hill's childhood room.|