21 Jump Street Review
Worth jumping to see.
I had serious doubt about this film when I first heard about it. God knows we have seen our share of really lame remakes and reimaginings over the last few years, most of which did not need to be made, nor was the public clamoring for them. Was there any part of the original Footloose that had you desperate to see it redone badly last year? Or the A Team? Now they are remaking Red Dawn and Top Gun. It’s like an insane architect designed a house with the septic/bad 80’s culture storage tank on the roof and in the last couple years the bottom is starting to rust through.
Of course, at least that would have been a creative and new idea, something that has become anathema in Hollywood these days. If it hasn’t been done successfully (or not) in the last generation most of film industry will treat it like a week dead skunk.
21 Jump Street was notably only for launching Johnny Depps career. Otherwise it was another dumb late 80’s cool kids acting all serious and having fun in high school. Kind of like 90210 with guns. When I heard they were remaking it I had that slow sinking sensation you might get when told there is an 80% chance you are going to have to pass a number of kidney stones. You know it’s likely to happen and very likely to suck. When I heard it was a being written as a comedy I thought either that would be the life preserver that keeps this film afloat or the anchor that drags this remake down to a watery grave.
Fortunately the comedy works, and works in a big way. I, along with most of the audience, laughed my ass off throughout most of this film. The jokes are funny, relatively original (is a joke original if it is purposely calling back on a dead horse that has been beaten by many other movies? Kind of a conundrum), and extremely well delivered by Jonah Hill and (to my surprise) Hollywood pretty boy Channing Tatum. The story, while not overly complicated or complex, was direct and to the point enough to make me not be distracted from the humor, a lot of which was tongue-in-cheek directed at exactly the deluge of bad remakes I just spent the introduction of this review railing against. Extremely fun and funny.
Not to say it didn’t have it’s problems, most of which seem to stem from the action sequences. Towards the end the movie tries to switch gears from a comedy into an action/buddy film and ironically I found that part to be the slowest and least intriguing. The action was too tame to pull me in and too out of tone to fit in with the comedy. Odds are it was necessary for the story, but the first chase sequence had a Police Academy feel to it that I thought worked better in the context of the entire film than the last big chase/fight scene. Not to say you won’t enjoy the film because of it.
Anyway, the story. Jonah Hill (Moneyball, Knocked Up, Superbad) plays Schmidt, a fat loser in high school who wants badly to be Slim Shady. Channing Tatum (the Vow, Haywire, the Eagle) plays Jenko, popular jock at the same school and recurring tormentor of Schmidt. A few years after high school they both enroll in the police academy together, where they discover Jenko’s physical prowess and Schmidts scholastic ability is what they both need to help each other graduated, thus becoming friends. After screwing up their first bust they are assigned to the 21 Jump Street program, where young looking officers are sent in to high schools to solve crimes. There is a new synthetic drug out there and they are told by their very funny (in a stereotypical way) captain Ice Cube (Friday, Boyz in the Hood, Office Space) to find the supplier.
Once at the school they get their identities mixed up, and discover that since they graduated the jock stud has become very unpopular and the sensitive, eco-conscious nerd is popular (proof once more that I was born in the wrong decade). Schmidt gets hooked up with the popular kids, including his (kind of creepy, although the make a point of telling us she is 18) love interest Molly (Brie Larson-Scott Pilgrim versus the World, 13 Going on 30, United States of Tara) and most popular kid in school, Eric (Dave Franco-Superbad, Fright Night, Charlie St. Cloud) while Jenko gets hooked up with the local geeky science nerds, who somehow in this age of enlightenment are still really unpopular (science image courtesy of the vintage t shirts). They encounter a super cute science teacher (Ellie Kemper-The Office, Bridesmaids, Get him to the Greek) and a Coach McGuirk (from Home Movies. If you don’t know this guy you fail in geek cred. Go watch a few episodes) style coach (who’s credit I can’t find but I have seen him before).
At that point we get a lot of high school humor, but because it is adults trying to fit in I found it more tolerable. They guys throw an epic party. Stuff gets blown up. Bad guys surface. An extremely cool twist shows up and brings the funny back during the final action scene for a moment.
The stars. Really, really funny. Three stars. Excellent performances from everyone. Two stars. Story was pretty good. One star. Rated R without trying to get rated R. Star. Ice Cube and a couple other surprise appearances were great. One star. A remake movie that pokes fun at all the other remake movies. One star. Overall fun movie. Two stars. Total: eleven stars.
The black holes. The action towards the end was really out of place and felt forced into the film. One black hole. Rated R for language is a huge waste of an opportunity to show nudity or some graphic violence. One black hole. My whole issue with kids having fun in high school. Am I the only one who remembers going to high school and wishing for the sweet caress of oblivion most of the time? One black hole. The character of Molly felt somehow faker than the rest of the characters, although I thought Brie did an admirable job with the role she was given. One black hole. Total: four black holes.
A grand total of seven stars. This movie is totally fun and definitely worth seeing. Go to a theater in support of quality film production, please. Date movie? I’m kind of neutral on this. Your date will probably enjoy the experience of watching it, but there is nothing in the film that will either encourage or discourage her feelings for you. Also, you will lag in comparison to Channing Tatum by a lot.
I gotta run, so I’m not even going to edit this for spelling until later tonight. Please forgive any you see. Thanks for reading. Not sure what I am going to watch tonight. Nothing really caught my eye. If you have any suggestions feel free to email me at email@example.com or Tweet @NerdKungFu. If you have a comment be sure to post it up here. Talk to you all soon.