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21 Jump Street - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
cinema_holic
cinema_holic
21 Jump Street
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Directing: B+
Acting: A-
Writing: B+
Cinematography: B+
Editing: B+



Well, what do you know. Some time ago I found myself thinking, for no particularly discernible reason, Has there ever been a car chase in a movie involving limousines? Maybe there had, I don't know; I just couldn't remember ever seeing one. Well, enter 21 Jump Street, with its car chase featuring not two, but three limousines!

Okay, so maybe it was still not quite as thrilling as I'd have liked. But it was funny. And there's another chase sequence in the movie where the heroes are driving a Student Driver car, and it's both funnier and more thrilling.

But that could be said of most of this movie, which is surprisingly clever, self-aware, and just plain all-around fun. There's even a cameo by not just Johnny Depp -- whose career jumped off from the original TV show of the same name -- but Peter DeLuise, who played Depp's partner in the show. Granted, such a cameo feels slightly more obligatory than delightful (and 22 years after leaving the show, Depp certainly no longer looks like he can pass as a high school student), but it's still a bit of a kick.

The show took itself a bit more seriously than this movie does, but that's fine -- and what makes the movie work, actually. There's a line, uttered by Ice Cube in a way that simultaneously embraces and subverts the stereotype of "Angry Black Police Captain," that acknowledges the now long-tired concept of making movies out of old TV shows. But the similarities this movie has to the show are merely conceptual, and otherwise an admirable job is done to keep things contemporary.

In fact, this story even illustrates a difference between 2005 and today. Schmidt and Jenko, here played respectively by Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, were in high school together back in 2005, but now have recently graduated from the Police Academy, and have been recruited to go undercover as high school kids in attempt to bus a drug ring. Jenko used to be the cool kid, and when they return to high school he thinks he still knows what being cool means. But when he identifies the different stereotypical cliques in the school parking lot, he finds many more "types" than he remembers. "What the fuck are those things?" says Schmidt, pointing at one sort of punky looking group of kids. No one seems to know.

That said, Schmidt is still the goofy nerd (making Jonah Hill an inspired casting choice) and Jenko is the handsome doofus (ditto). And due to an idiotic mistake, Jenko uses the wrong fake name and ends up with all the brainy classes and Schmidt gets the easy-grade classes. This is how Schmidt ends up spending an entire action sequence dressed as Peter Pan.

Their objective is to find the dealer and in so doing find the supplier. The dealer is Eric, and if the actor playing Eric seems strangely familiar it's because he's Dave Franco, who could almost be his brother James's twin. (It's a little ironic that Dave is a 26-year-old playing a high school kid here; he's all of two years younger than Jonah Hill.)

Naturally, even while Schmidt and Jenko discover themselves doing better than they thought capable in the wrong classes, they make friends at school, get emotionally invested in their lives and problems, and earn their trust through myriad irresponsible shenanigans. That is where most of the joy of watching this 21 Jump Street comes. Some of the stuff they do, both in and outside the school, it's kind of amazing how long it takes for them to get into any real trouble -- but hey, whatever, it’s a movie.

And it's kind of a blast. Hill and Tatum have an odd-couple chemistry you'd never expect, and Tatum in particular gives a performance that proves him to be better than the increasing pile of claptrap he's starred in to date. It turns out he has quite a knack for comedy, equal to Jonah Hill, who has long since proved himself on that front. Hill, in fact, gets co-credit for the story with Michael Bacall (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), who wrote the screenplay that never stoops to the lowest common denominator or insults our intelligence. These are rare qualities in modern comedies, and when you get that combined with consistent, genuine laughs, you've got a winner.

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum prove to be more than just recycled material in 21 JUMP STREET.


Overall: B+
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Comments
tommy50702 From: tommy50702 Date: January 22nd, 2015 11:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow, this movie really had only four funny parts and the rest was pretty much so-so humor.
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