Based on the 80′s television series created by Stephen J Cannell and starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, 21 Jump Street is the story of two undercover cops in high school. Is Hollywood really running out of fresh ideas, or is this adaptation actually worth seeing?
In 2005, Morton Schmidt and Greg Jenko were seniors in high school. Schmidt was the awkward, nerdy, Slim Shady wannabe in braces and Jenko was the cool, jock, prom king. They were complete opposites. Five years later the two find themselves running into each other as they join the police academy. Schmidt is book smarts and Jenko dumb as a box of rocks. Jenko is a prime athlete and Schmidt can barely run down the street. The two recognize their weaknesses and realize that with each other’s strengths they can forget about high school, become friends, and work together to graduate the academy. The two become officers and are excited about being bad asses… until their first assignment: bike patrol at the local park.
So anxious to be “real cops” and actually arrest someone, Schmidt and Jenko fumble an easy drug bust by simply not reading a biker gang member his Miranda Rights. In front of their captain for disciplinary action, he informs them they are going to be assigned to an undercover unit based in an abandoned Korean church on 21 Front St, that specializes in young looking cops as high school narcs. Jenko and Schmidt’s first case is to stop a new synthetic drug called HFS from spreading to other high schools by infiltrating the dealers and busting the supplier.
From looking at the trailers and knowing the history of Hollywood television remakes, my next sentence is absolutely going to shock you. 21 Jump Street is an absolutely hilarious movie. It is so silly and goofy that I laughed from beginning to end. But it wasn’t just cheap physical gags or corny stereotypes that make the film funny. It is actually that the movie does not at all take itself serious. The flick is actually self aware by even poking fun of itself throughout the movie. For example, when Schmidt and Jenko are being yelled at by their Captain (Nick Offerman – Parks and Recreation), he makes it well known that the 21 Jump Street undercover unit is a rehashed idea from the 80′s and that the higher up from downtown just couldn’t come up with any better ideas. Sounds like Hollywood, right?
Another thing that makes 21 Jump Street not just some remake, is that the creator of the original television series, Stephen J Cannell (A-Team, Rockford Files, Hawaii Five-O) produced the film. The television show is his baby, so he actually had a say in the final product. The screenplay was written by Jonah Hill who has a history with Seth Rogan and Judd Appatow.
But the number one thing that makes 21 Jump Street funny is the pairing up of Jonah Hill (Super Bad/Moneyball) and Channing Tatum (The Vow/GI Joe) in this polar opposite, role reversal, buddy cop movie. Also credited as the film’s executive producers, Hill and Tatum make for a funny odd couple. What also makes the situation funny is that 6 years after graduating, the high school hierarchy has shifted. The kids who were once losers are now the cool kids. So Schmidt weirdly fits in as the new cool dude in school. And let’s be honest, it’s not that hard of a stretch for Hill to be a nerd and Tatum to be a jock. So you could say that it’s perfect casting.
Rounding out the cast is Ice Cube (Boyz in the Hood/Friday) as the 21 Jump Street Captain in charge of Schmidt and Jenko, Brie Larson (Scott Pilgrim vs the World) as Molly, Schmidt’s high school love interest, and Rob Riggle (The Hangover/Big Miracle) as Mr. Walters the gym teacher. All three are fantastic in their supporting roles. A bit stereotypical at times, but let me remind you, the film doesn’t take itself seriously.
The audience I saw the movie with was filled with a wide variety of demographics that laughed the entire duration of the film. From the comedy, to the chase scenes, to the shootouts there is not a down moment in the film. It is non-stop laughs. There are even three huge cameos and one came with thunderous applause from the audience. I don’t want to ruin it, but my jaw dropped. So if you like comedies in the spirit of Super Bad, Police Academy, and Step Brothers, then you’ll love 21 Jump Street. I can’t recommend it enough!