Friday, March 16, 2012

Review: 21 Jump Street (2012)

I think we all get the drill when it comes to movies based on old television shows that have long since disappeared from syndication.  They usually aren’t done very well as they rely far too much on nostalgia as opposed to things like a solid plot and good acting (i.e. Bewitched, Miami Vice, Lost in Space).  And when they try to take a dramatic television show and transform it into a comedy, well…its usually twice as bad (Dukes of Hazzard).  So my expectations were fairly low for 21 Jump Street.  How could Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum possibly follow in the footsteps of Johnny Depp, Peter DeLuise, Dustin Nguyen, and Holly Robinson (let’s pretend Richard Grieco never happened) AND be funny?

This is in no way hyperbole when I say that this movie represents the most fun I have had at the cinema in months.  At first glance the plot appears to cast Tatum (Jenko) and Hill (Schmidt) as the typical popular jock and dork respectively, but the film cleverly manufactures role reversals while poking fun at the conventions of the present juxtaposed against those of the past.  And Hill and Tatum are up to the task of delivering this brand of comedy.  You would think that most of the comedic chemistry between the leads would be attributed to Hill, but surprisingly it is Tatum that drives the laughter bus, as he is far more entertaining when thrust into roles that prevent the actor from taking himself seriously.

As for the supporting cast, it is solid led by Ice Cube as Captain Dickson.  He completely steals the show, as his scenes are some of the best in the movie.  Whenever he is berating Jenko, Schmidt, and the rest of his team, Cube delivers the sharpest one-liners; many of which produced genuine laugh-out-loud moments.  Rob Riggle (The Hangover, The Other Guys) is solid as a gym teacher with his usual shtick of idiotic amped-up machismo that at times can be hit or miss, but in this film completely works.  Dave Franco (Fright Night) is adequately annoying as Eric Molson - BMOC, and Brie Larson (who was amazing in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) does a nice job as Hill’s love interest.

Writer Michael Bacall definitely does not pull any punches with his script as the movie truly earns its R-rating and directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller do an adequate job of framing together action sequences to remind you that despite the plethora of gags and jokes, the film still boils down to one about cops and drug dealers.   If you liked the television show, you will enjoy this movie, as there are some great surprises that I won’t spoil.  And if you have never head of the show before seeing the trailer, fear not.  There is a lot to like about this movie.  You won’t have to do a lot of thinking during the two hours that you’re watching it, but you will definitely do a lot of laughing.  Korean Jesus alone makes the film worthy of a $12 price of admission.

Standout Performance: A tie between Ice Cub and Korean Jesus.  To me, it’s the best scene in the movie.


  1. Rather than a re-hash of the original, though, this is a re-imagining by Hill, who ... set it in the present with appropriate nods to the original and a whole lot of silliness. Nostalgia has rarely been better served and Tatum hasn't been better. Great jobs by everybody involved which sets the bar pretty high-up this year for comedies. Good review. Check out my review when you can get the chance.