21 Jump Street
Chief Hardy: Do you even know the Miranda rights?
Jenko: It obviously goes something like – you have the right to remain an attorney?
You have the right to remain amused. As much as I dislike making statements like these, it is fitting for the film’s sake: I haven’t laughed harder in a movie since The 40 Year Old Virgin. 21 Jump Street is a total laugh riot, spitting out witty one-liners and hilarious gags in a very modern fashion. I have yet to seen the 80′s TV show that inspired the film, but I doubt it was anything close to the material in this. 21 Jump Street surely takes advantage of an R-rating (with a reported 123 F-words), and the film embodies Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as a spectacular comedic-duo. Match that up with fine directing and superb writing; you have a fun film to behold.
The film starts in the year 2005, where we follow the not so slim-shady Schmidt in high school, where he is continuously bullied by the dreadlocked jock Jenko (Channing Tatum). Cut to the present, and both of these guys discover each other at the Metropolitan Police Academy, where they join forces together to ensure that they both graduate. Schmidt is the brains of the operation while Jenko is the brawn. Soon after, the two of them become friends and are full-blown cops, doing the dirty business… bicycle duty.
When the two deliver their first drug bust, it turns out as a bust for them, as the suspect was let go because Jenko doesn’t know the Miranda Rights (as Jenko likes to say: You have the right to suck my d***!). Soon after, the duo’s boss, Deputy Chief Hardy (wonderfully played by Nick Offerman in a nice cameo) reports them to Jump Street… 21 Jump Street. This place is a center for an undercover organization run by Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) which sends officers disguised as high schoolers to destroy drug rings.
Schmidt and Jenko are sent to a local high school where they are ordered to take down a synthetic drug ring that distributes a new type of drug with side-effects that play out in CGI form, with a very cartoonish style going on. After a name mixup, Schmidt is now portraying the dumb-jock and Jenko is portraying the boy-genius (who can’t even say AP Chemistry correctly). The two soon embark the opposite of their previous high school life.
Schmidt’s first day is a success—where he successfully befriends a potential suspect (Brie Larson), whom leads him to one of the dealers—environmentalist Eric (played by James Franco’s younger brother, Dave Franco). After purchasing drugs off of Eric and throwing a crazy party, Schmidt becomes good friends with him—while Jenko gets in with the geeks and science-wizards. Going on with all of this, Jenko has to avoid his horny teacher (played by the wonderful Ellie Kemper), keep their cool, and avoid one-strapping it. The lives of thousands of “innocent” drug users are now in the hands of… these guys.
Alright, folks—I apoligize for the long plot overview, but there is just so much going on in 21 Jump Street that would make me feel like a cheater had I left some points out. Anyways, back to the review. Upon the initial release of the trailer, a handful of moviegoers, including myself, were shaking our heads at a remake of a not-so-popular 80′s television show. However, my opinion quickly changed after watching the restricted trailer, which does solid service to the film’s marketing.
Speaking of marketing, this film was advertised in a way that does not make sense unless you see the film. Most of the clips shown in the trailer occurs in the first twenty minutes of the film—clearly serving the audience well. Last year, Bad Teacher made a huge mistake by giving away [most of] the funny moments in the first trailer. Unlike Teacher, 21 Jump Street is consistently funny throughout—all thanks to trailer censorship.
Going back to my earlier statement: (I haven’t laughed harder in a movie since The 40 Year Old Virgin), I am confident to say that 21 Jump Street is uproariously funny and features some genuinely perfect jokes. Yes, I am aware that the film contains a large amount of “dick and fart” jokes, but it also features some of the most ridiculous situations I’ve seen on screen that had me tearing up. With that said, the real comedic uprising are the film’s perfectly cast leads.
In a comedy, one can never go wrong with Jonah Hill. Hill has made quite a name for himself—starring in Superbad, and earning himself an Academy Award Nomination for his brilliant performance in Moneyball. It should come as a surprise to nobody that he delivered. The real surprise here most likely exceeded anyones expectations—Channing Tatum in a fantastic role. Tatum is known to be hated by the general public due to his forgettable career choices (The Eagle, Step Up, Dear John). 21 Jump Street features Channing Tatum in full-potential form—some may even go further and say that this is a Step Up (ha!) in his acting career. 2012, your official box-office champion is Channing Tatum. Congratulations, you deserve it.
In addition to the leads, the film has a superlative supporting cast. Ellie Kemper (Bridesmaids, The Office) has a minor role that I wish they’d dive into a bit more—though it would be difficult to condense a whole other plotline with so many already happening. James Franco’s little brother Dave continues his longstanding career of playing a cocky high school student (Superbad, Greenberg, Fright Night)—except his character is a bit more lenient in this one (still cocky, though). Other notable supporters include Brie Larson, Rob Riggle, Ice Cube, Chris Parnell, and a very special cameo.
No film is perfect—despite my obvious love for the film, 21 Jump Street suffers from a relatively minor flaw. I had a hard time getting past the first 20 minutes of the film. Again, it was the marketing that most likely edged my uneasiness with these minutes, as most of the jokes were included in both the green and red band trailer. However, once the film picks up and the duo goes undercover; you’ll forget all about that first half (except for me—it’s my job to remember). In the end, 21 Jump Street is a real crowd-pleaser that I can’t wait to experience again.
21 Jump Street: 4 out of 5