"21 Jump Street" offers audiences refreshingly fun time
Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 19:03
Filed under the “what was Hollywood thinking” category of remakes, the decision to remake “21 Jump Street” completely baffled me. There are some films whose origins that I can understand for better or worse, due to the contributions of their source materials to our own pop culture, such as “The A-Team” and “Conan the Barbarian.” However the fascination of remaking a mediocre TV show, whose only claim to fame was Johnny Depp’s career is beyond me. Fortunately the film resulting from such reasoning is so funny that I could care less about how bad of a concept it was.
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum play mid-2000’s Hollywood nerd and jock, Morton Schmidt and Greg Jenko respectively, at the end of their Police academy training. After botching and arrest attempt gone wrong, due to Jenko not knowing his Miranda rights, the two are given a last chance and reassigned to a new program tasking them with infiltrating a high school in disguise to prevent the spread of a new and fatal synthetic drug.
Their chief sends them on their way, describing the program as some thing that the administration dug up from the 80’s because people aren’t original anymore and just want the same old crap repackaged like there’s virtually no difference. It’s at this point, where it becomes evident just what kind of movie this is supposed to be.
To say that “21 Jump Street” is a parody of its own concept would be a massive understatement. The film’s self referential humor about its own concept, playing up stereotypes, the modern day dichotomy between nerds and popular kids in high school, and being a buddy cop adventure between two cops have yet to prove their worth, is played mercilessly yet with a level of love and affection that keeps it from feeling mean spirited.
The chemistry between Hill and Tatum is the glue that holds the overall talent of the film together. The touching bond between the two that maintains throughout the movie sells the character drama between the two, resulting from having to relive their high school days and the highjinks that ensue between the two and the cast carries genuine hilarity rather than the level of obnoxiousness that most action comedies tend to strive for.
Other talents such as Rob Riggle as the overzealous Gym coach help to reflect the comical nature of the world that the film is set in. Dave Franco –younger brother of James Franco- gives a great performance as the head of the popular crowd, capturing a perfect balance between real world charisma and the comedic timing necessary to sell the concept of a high school student serving as a villain.
As somebody that always has a soft spot for smart comedy, I’m still in shock that “21 Jump Street” manages to be not only smart but also genuinely funny. Going in with pretty low expectations, the film that I was treated to took me by total surprise and then some but only because of its actual high quality. The film is peppered by a couple of jokes that fall pretty flat but these moments are vastly outweighed by the number of hard laughs that I got out of the film as a whole.