I’ve never watched the original 21 Jump Street television program, but I am well aware of its much more dramatic and serious tone, in comparison to the movie. Yes, hardcore fans of the show definitely should be upset that they’ve taken this source material into something completely different. The directors of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballsand Jonah Hill starring and writing it shouldn’t be comforting fans any further. Though let’s face it: a movie based of this show would have never worked today, and at this point, you’re probably wondering why they should make it in the first place. Well, it’s simple. It’s not the coming-of-age crime drama you remember it to be, but it’s still one really fun movie.
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum play two inexperienced police officers, who used to be the nerd and the jock back in their high school, that are reported over to 21 Jump Street, as their mission is to find the source of a new, trendy drug amongst the young people, by going undercover as high school students. This starts a series of shenanigans of them getting too adjusted to the setting, as the craziness of high school sets in. You can easily see why they took the comedic approach to the film, and it pays off. Jonah Hill is hilarious here, and it’s nice to see he’s the potty-mouth dork here instead of the potty-mouth hothead (trust me, there’s a difference). I normally never have anything positive to say about Channing Tatum, but he’s just as funny here. The two make a great comedy duo. The rest of the cast is pretty hilarious, too, as we finally get to see Dave Franco show off his comedic chops that we always see on Funny Or Die, and having Ice Cube NOT be in some lame and generic family film.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller do a great directing transition from animation to live-action, as they bring their zany and goofy timing and pace to this action comedy. Not nearly as silly as their last film, but they leave plenty of traces. Now this ridiculousness isn’t too far off from just plain stupidity, even though the script by Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill does find some balance. It’s the raunchy comedy you’ve come to expect by now, but you know the typical graphic penis joke can get old quickly, too. It’s a case for most R-rated comedies now: the sake of being inappropriate just because you can. It was definitely excessive here at many points, and will turn off viewers. Though if you’re a comedy geek like me, you get past it right away. 21 Jump Street is an energetic and hilarious romp that will probably turn naysayers into fans. Maybe not as clever as other action comedies, like Hot Fuzz, but gather all your friends to see this and you’ll be glad you did.
RATING: 8.5/10. Truly love the directors after this, love Jonah Hill as much as ever, and love screenwriter Michael Bacall now. After his work here and Scott Pilgrim, I’m looking forward even more to Project X and the Tropic Thunder spin-off.