March 27, 2012

Movie Review: 21 Jump Street (2012)

I have to admit, when I first heard about a 21 Jump Street movie, I cannot say it sounded like all that good of an idea. Of course, I never actually watched the original television series (should I?) and had no real attachment to the material. I think my ideas came from the casting of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill in the lead rolls and going in an overtly comic role, where I believe the series had a bit more of a serious tone. With that said, the movie won me over with a pretty good trailer and the movie proved to be downright hilarious.

The story follows a couple of rookie cops (Tatum and Hill), one good with the physicality of the job and the other the brains. Of course, when it comes to actually being cops, neither one is all that well disciplined. Upon screwing up their first bust they are transferred to a project that is being brought back from the past where they will be going undercover as high school students. Where do they report? 37 Jump Street. Wait, that's not right. 21 Jump Street.

Their assignment is to find the dealers and the supplier of a new designer drug. Off the dynamic duo go. What follows is a series of comedic misadventures that finds them doing pretty much anything and everything wrong as they try to find the source of the drugs. This includes the fish out of water high school experience. Even though they are just a few years removed from their own graduation, a lot has changed and this school is a new and dangerous place.

This take on 21 Jump Street proved to be very well executed and laugh out loud funny. Seriously, while it is far from the greatest thing you will see this year, it is well worth the time if you just want to have some fun at the movies. In some ways I am reminded of the Ben Stiller/Owen Wilson take on Starsky and Hutch. Both films are respectful of the source but both are gleefully self aware and do their best to bring in a solid dose of comic sensibility.

When it comes to the story, I cannot say that I have all that much to write about. It is a standard tale of good guys trying to catch the bad guys with comedic results. There's nothing all that interesting about the plot. What makes this work is the genuinely funny script and, dare I say it, good work from the cast.

I liked the self aware moments in the script. They were funny, obvious, but worked within the context while not breaking the reality set up within the film. I particularly enjoyed the bit with Nick Offerman as the police chief talking about restarting the old program because no one has any good ideas anymore, not to mention the explosions that didn't happen. There was a fun meta thread throughout with characters saying odd things at times, I loved it.

The cast demonstrated good comedic timing and rapport. I have to give a lot of credit to them for making Channing Tatum appear to have a personality, perhaps there is hope for him yet. Jonah Hill was fine as the straight man. The supporting cast is littered with fun turns from Dave Franco, Brie Larson, Rob Riggle, Ellie Kemper, and Ice Cube. This movie plays up the stereotypes and does it well.

I am not sure what else to say about this thing. It is just really funny and sometimes that is all that is really needed. They took the concept of 21 Jump Street, tweaked it, and released it upon the masses. This is nothing but a crowd pleaser. Sit back and enjoy.



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