Tuesday, April 10, 2012

21 Jump Street

21 Jump Street - ***

Directed by: Phil Lord, Chris Miller

Starring: Jonah Hill, Chaning Tatum, Ice Cube, Rob Riggle, Brie Larson, Dave Franco

Review:  Hollywood is to the point where they’re running out of ideas.  This much we know.  For me, the issue isn’t so much rehashing ideas with sequels and remakes, it’s making sure that they are done in a quality manner that is faithful to the original material but still provides something new.  Any time you have a situation where a dramatic show like ’21 Jump Street’ is going to be done as a comedy it makes one a little weary.  What’s advantageous to us, is that the creators were able to makes this transition an easy one to swallow.

The TV show version was a little bit before my time so I’m not really familiar with the plot other than the basic concept and that it was Johnny Depp’s first major role in anything.  It centers around an unlikely duo of cops that are trying to fulfill their dreams of being “badasses.”  Neither Schmidt (Hill) nor Jenko (Tatum) could succeed at much else so they decided to try their hand at being cops.

Instead of a lifetime of gun fights and car chases, they find themselves on park patrol.  That is, until they are transferred to an undercover squad that resides on, you guessed it, 21 Jump street.  People are put on this squad because they look young enough to be in high school, and will use that to their advantage when they try to infiltrate drug rings that seem all too common in high schools.

Schmidt and Jenko wind up in the middle of a drug ring for a newfound synthetic drug that has already caused one death in the school, and hopefully won’t cause any more.  This is where the best and funniest moments take place.  Seeing these two get involved with normal high schoolers and fall back into their old ways provides for some quality moments.

It’s a movie like this that makes us realize how hard high school really was.  How the world only changes slightly from there but the best thing we can do is grow as people.  The world would stay in a perpetual state of high school if it weren’t for the fact that we all grow and mature past that point.  

For a little while these two get sucked back into their high school lives, except they are reversed.  A “loser” in his high school days Schmidt is now fits in more with the popular kids.  Jenko, the quintessential jock, has no idea how to succeed in the new high school realm where social consciousness is cool, being smart is desired, and hipsters are everywhere!

Normal high jinks ensue as these two try to toe the line between being in high school, being adults, and doing their job.  Hill provides the usual depth to his comedic performances showing why the Oscar nomination he received last year (Moneyball), was no fluke.  What really helps the movie succeed is Tatum.  An actor who I’ve never thought much of shows solid comic timing and the necessary depth to be funny but still allow us to care.  While he has made some suspect decisions in the past (‘Dear John’ anyone?), he looks to have a bright future with the right choices.

As a comedy it’s not riotous laughter so much as it is consistent.  The film doesn’t go for the big laughs but keeps the funny coming and will no doubt be even better upon repeated viewings.  This is where you know you have a solid comedy, when you only think it will get better the next time you watch it.

Overall, this is worth your time.

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