Friday, March 16, 2012

21 JUMP STREET Review- She Said

Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Written by Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, and Rob Riggle
Synopsis: A pair of police officers are sent back to go undercover to bust a drug ring at a high school.

21 JUMP STREET has almost everything going against it. The film is based off the 80's TV series, so you would assume it would pander to fans of the show, yet this remake isn't geared towards Generation X's nostalgia. So, why did this update get made? I never watched the show, but I have a feeling this isn't my mother's 21 JUMP STREET. This film is what a remake should be; a throwback to the original with a voice of its own.

The premise is completely unoriginal. Jonah Hill, the smart, uncool dude, and Channing Tatum, the dim-witted, cool cat, form an unlikely friendship in police academy, even though they were in opposite circles in high school, and end up being pretty lackluster police officers. They get plucked from their park patrol to go undercover as part of the 21 Jump Street Unit to infiltrate and bring down a drug ring at a local high school. Hijinks obviously ensue, but the plot is smart and funny enough to keep you engaged. Yes, there is some, well a lot, of crude humor, but since the movie had such well written humor, you never felt the movie dumbed itself down by having crude jokes in it. Initially you think you know what the plot will do when the boys go back to high school, but thanks to them pretty much having culture shock (you mean the cool kids nowadays actually study and care?), and the cliched plot gets flipped on its head.

The strength of the film lies with Hill and Tatum as one of my favorite odd couple pairings I've seen. Hill is his normal snarky, yet charming self. Tatum, however, needs to act in more comedic movies. Surprisingly dynamic, he comes off as initially one note, yet he ends up with more of the serious character beats. Don't get me wrong, there aren't any serious philosophical mysteries of life being explored here, but the film does give some insight into the inter-workings of guy relationships. Is having a lengthy "handshake" a thing now?
(As a male, I find this so sexist. Way to stereotype men, Jonesy -Javi)

There are a few downfalls. Ice Cube plays the very one-note captain of the 21 Jump Street unit. He has a few scenes, and his initial introduction is loud, boisterous, and funny, but he stays at that level the entire movie, and thus just becomes almost boring. Yes, we get it, he thinks Hill and Tatum are screw ups and berates them. Moving on. Thankfully all the other supporting characters (in almost a who's who of "Hey, I recognize him/her from somewhere!"), even if they're one note, don't wear out their welcome. The movie is so go, go, go with gag after gag that when the meat of the story begins to really unfold during the third act, the pace drops a little too much. But these are just nick-picky things because the film is so enjoyable.

I must admit though I will probably have to see this movie again only because some parts are so sidesplittingly hysterical, I couldn't hear the lines being said on screen. I'm sure there were extra enjoyable inside moments if you were a fan of the series, but I need watched, and the movie was still quite enjoyable. It's immensely fun, hysterical, and any film that promotes science as being cool is top notch in my book.

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