I’m not surprised very often by Hollywood and its’ continuing persistence to remake movies and turn TV shows into feature films. I mean, really, how many of those have actually been good, let alone barely watchable? … Turns out, 21 Jump Street is actually pretty funny.
I’m not surprised very often by Hollywood and its’ continuing persistence to remake movies and turn TV shows into feature films. I mean, really, how many of those have actually been good, let alone barely watchable? Even if you justify it by saying, “Ok, we’ll just turn our brains off and enjoy the ride for what it is”, how often have you really been satisfied coming out of the theater? Probably less often than you remember. So, when I DO come out of a movie like this pleasantly surprised, it’s saying something. Turns out, 21 Jump Street is actually pretty funny.
The premise is pretty much the same as the late 80’s TV show: the police send certain officers that look young enough to go undercover in a high school or college to catchcertain criminals. Here, they send in two cops, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum), to uncover a new synthetic drug-dealing ring in a high school.
Some of this is obviously going to be pretty by the numbers. Of course Schmidt, played by the now thinner Jonah Hill was the smart nerd type in high school, and Jenko, played by the characteristically hunky Channing Tatum, was the popular dumb jock in high school. So these two guys lived oppostie lives at the same school. Seven years later they both end up in the same line to try to become police officers. Realizing the other has qualities the other needs help with, they become friends, and manage to help each other graduate from cop school training.
When they go undercover, they find high school isn’t what it was when they were there. The usual sterotypes don’t apply as much. Now the smart, eco-aware students are kinda the cool ones and the movie allows Schimdt and Jenko to sort of switch roles, Schmidt becomes the popular one, Jenko the nerd. They actually find a way to get some laughs on that reversal.
Jonah Hill’s funny hasn’t worn out yet for me, and he hasn’t lost any of that awkwardness just because he lost weight. He and Tatum manage to make a good comedy duo here. I’m especially surprised by Tatum. He manages to pull off this comedy well. I think there is a real actor in there, despite how I think he’s perceived by most people. I liked everyone in this, especially Rob Riggle, who is making his mark playing smaller but funny parts. And Chris Parnell gets some great lines as the drama teacher Mr. Gordon.
Ok, so yeah, some of the jokes in this fall flat. Most of this is funny, though. I guess that’s my only significant complaint: the funny is just sort of inconsistent. I’m only going with three kittenhands here for that reason. I enjoyed it, I laughed, and it was much better than expected, but some of the funny was not so much. But with expectations so low, I suppose – well, yeah, it could have easily met my expectations, but thankfully it didn’t this time. Most of the realy funny stuff was based on how self-aware this movie was. It didn’t take itself seriously at all and even poked fun at the whole idea of rehashing old material and trying to pass it off as new.
There are a couple of great surprise uncredited guest appearances, as one might expect, but one of the actors was a total surprise. It’s probably my favorite scene, too. I’ll tell you who because this has already been out over a week (well, no reviewers thought it would be good!) and you likely already heard, but if not – SPOILER! – both Peter DeLuise and Johnny Depp turn up in this! I KNOW! I was pretty shocked, actually. I wouldn’t have expected Depp to do this but there he was. They reprise their original 21 Jump Street roles in this wonderfully over the top scene in a hotel room where everyone is busting the drug dealers. It’s pretty great. Their time on screen is one reason why this gets as many as three kittenhands.
So, 21 Jump Street manages to stay away from the horrid pile of dreck that these kind of remake/TV show adaptation movies usually deserve to be a part of. I was surprised to find this doesn’t belong with most of the movies based on a Saturday Night Live sketch. Nothing like dragging a two minute joke out to 90 minutes of pure torture. But 21 Jump Street will make a great way to kill a rainy day or for some laughs on Netflix for sure.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, forgot to mention that there’s no shortage of filthy langauge in this.