“21 Jump Street” – Review by Christian Becker

I loved this movie. There, that should give you a sense of what I think pretty clearly. It’s been a long time since I laughed this hard and this often while sitting there watching one movie. Which is odd, because this stars Jonah Hill (who is actually often funny) and, wait for it…Channing Tatum! Yes, the hate for this man and the movies he has been a part of are huge, but I actually loved him in this movie. This is also suppose to be an adaptation of an 80’s TV show that really kicked Johnny Depp’s career into high gear (maybe you’ve heard of the guy), but from what I hear (because I’ve never actually seen the show) it really has nothing to do with what the show was like back in the day. No one seems to have a problem with that, so neither do I!

This is not a stupid comedy. Yes, it’s premise is a little juvenile, but it’s so self aware of the type of movie it is that the writers play that as a strength. Everything in the movie knows that Hill and Tatum look to old to be in high school and it’s addressed multiple times and when explaining the 21 Jump Street Program to these two guys, their boss says “They’re reviving a cancelled program from the 80’s, apparently no one can come up with anything original so they just keep recycling the same stuff over and over”. Okay, that’s not EXACTLY how the quote goes, but you get my point. They know how ridiculous the plot is and how familiar it feels, so they make jokes about it!  Another action movie cliche they play into is during a highway car chase, people keep shooting at things all over the place and Hill yells “wow, i really thought that was going to blow up!”. Because if you have every seen a buddy cop flick or a Michael Bay film) you know that EVERYTHING blows up. It’s almost like a rule or something.

The comedy is consistent in this movie. Many comedies will have funny lines or things about them, but they may have a dry spot or two that forgets to be funny. 21 Jump Street never had a dull moment as far as laughs are concerned (at least for me). The pace is quick and the lines are witty and fresh without always going for the lame “fat” or “gay” joke. The jokes were more pop culture based and how the times had changed in High School from when Schmidt and Jenko (Hill and Tatum) attended for real and when they go back undercover. They switch roles and friend groups in that time span, Hill goes from being a nerdy guy to a popular ones (mostly hanging out with James Franco’s actual younger brother, Dave Franco) and Tatum goes from the popular crowd to actually hanging and having fake light saber battles with the nerdy kids. Hill loves his new found power, while Tatum hates his demotion as a nerd, but in the end he actually starts to like his new friends and realize that people are just people and “cool” kids can be found in any group.

The chemistry between Hill and Tatum is spot on. Who would have thought that these guys would make such a great pair playing partners/best friends? Not me. Most of the reason why the comedy works is because it works so well when the lines are delivered by these two guys and the banter between them is hilarious to the max. Their relationship is developed very nicely in the first couple minutes, but it seemed a bit rushed to me. They quickly went from High School, to training at the police academy, to being bicycle cops in the park all in a matter of ten minutes. But is this really something to complain about? Not really. Any longer and the scenes may have been drawn out to the point of boredom.

I’ve talked so much about the comedy this movie offers that I haven’t said much about the action. That’s because, while the action is pretty exciting, these scenes are not the movies strong point. But, they are exciting. Nothing is over the top or unbelievable in the action, with no huge stunts to be seen. But seriously, it was awesome to see Hill and Tatum take part in a gun battle/car chase with thugs from the hood while wearing white suits and having no real experience dealing with this type of situation. It really plays up a dream we all secretly have. To be a part of some high energy action involving drug dealers, car chases and guns, even though we know in real life we would be killed in an instant. Or maybe that’s just me…

Hilarious dialogue that’s not entirely mean spirited, some pretty sweet action scenes, the best cameo appearance I’ve seen in a long time (don’t worry, wont spoil it. But it’s kind of obvious) actors who can deliver fun material and writers and directors who know exactly how silly their production is. Combine all of this and you get a very entertaining movie that turns out to be not only the funniest movie of this year so far, but of last year as well.

Grade: A 

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