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Movie Review – 21 Jump Street

By Plotdevice39 @PlotDevices

I will admit that I never really watched the television show, 21 Jump Street.  I was far too young for the edginess that was the late 80s and the procedural nature of two undercover officers posing as teens in high school and busting up the cheer club or whatever.  I was around the age of 3 at the time so I couldn’t comprehend much at the time, but through my pursuit of pop culture knowledge, I came to learn that the show was a serious undercover format and that High School is apparently dangerous as Compton.  So while this show has faded into the pop culture lexicon, thank the idealess Hollywood Execs and their penchant for making the old new again for bringing back this crime drama and turning into something that we can all handle, a buddy cop comedy.

Movie Review – 21 Jump Street

What seemed like a terrible idea, 21 Jump Street is surprisingly self referential and downright hilarious with the cast and crew taking the tropes of the trashy televsion show, the buddy cop genre and raunchy, YouTube afflicted generation of movie goers all basically having a prom night grope-fest with one another and having a fucking great time. 21 Jump Street falls into that coveted R-rated comedy genre that Hollywood has finally found to be profitable again and turned what could have been a bad idea (still is in my opinion) and decided to just run with it. What you get from this film is a flatout, raunch fest that is filled with the ridiculousness of 80s style action scenes, sprinkled with the bromance of the two leads and then goes for the gut with the humor.

The films stars Channing Tatum and Academy Award Nominee (surprised the posters didn’t reflect this) Jonah Hill as Jenko and Schmidt, two partners who just seven years earlier were the quintessential High School movie trope of Tatum being the dumb jock and Hill being the apathetic loser. Both trying to make something of their lives join the police force where they become friends out of a necessity of needing one another to pass and then are partnered together as bike cops. A far cry from the macho version of police cops that they want to get out of, a wrongful arrest lands them in the hot seat where their police chief, played by Ron Swanson himself Nick Offerman, tells the two that they headed to 21 Jump Street. Or is it 37 Jump Street.  Arriving at the Korean Catholic Church, the two officers encounter your typical angry, black police captain (played by Ice Cube) who inform Jenko and Schmidt that they will be entering into high school to bust up a drug ring.  As you can expect, high school is not what it seems when they arrive for their first day of undercover work.

Movie Review – 21 Jump Street

Is it fair to say that this film is our generations Starsky and Hutch remake, yeah I would say so.  To be honest though, both films were enjoyable and 21 Jump Street knows what sort of movie it is and runs with it.  The fact that the movie manages to give us a bit of a nod towards the notion that Hollywood is out of ideas and rehashes old shit and thinks no one will notice is a nice meta commentary on the state of filmmaking.  That said, 21 Jump Street isn’t just some cash grab (it is a cash grab) but manages to actually entertain with a slick comedic script and kind of flipping the typical high school tropes on its head.  This comes to light when Jenko (C-Tates) is no longer in the top hierarchy of the school society, but rather it is the granola eating, beatniks that seems to control the school.  It’s kind of like going back to school and realizing the geeks are running it to a degree and overt displays of alpha dominance is derided.

Now I don’t want it to sound like this is some social commentary on school, but it’s nice to see that things are changing.  With that said, I am actually surprised by how well Tatum takes to playing a comedic role like this where he is a bit typecast (seriously I am sure he was the bully jock in school) and then in a case of mistaken identity, has to play the role of the nerd.  This leads to Schmidt taking over and trying to infiltrate the cool kid circle, giving him a chance to live out that coveted fantasy that all loser kids want to do, me included.  21 Jump Street’s parts make up the whole of the film, with great performances from Hill and Tatum, even to seeing Dave Franco, Rob Riggle and Brie Larson getting some major screen time.  The diverse cast offers up some hilarious moments and meta jokes pertaining to the past television series.  Also be on the lookout for one of the best cameos in a film in a long time.

Movie Review – 21 Jump Street

21 Jump Street is pretty much not the 21 Jump Street of your past television viewing.  Much like today’s kids and viewing habits, the film is pretty much bumping and grinding all over the place like a homecoming dance.  It isn’t afraid to essentially say “yeah we know we are based on a television show” and the film excels at what it is trying to do.  I would say that the script is smart and funny, but a lot of the jokes go on for a bit longer than they should and feel scatter shot and misplaced at times.  It doesn’t suffer from a long run time, but it does feel a bit long, again from the holding on sight gags and jokes too long.  Overall the film does it’s job at managing to take the over the top seriousness of the 80s show and making it for a generation that likes their prom dances dirty and jokes primed for YouTube viewing.  Tatum is surprisingly hilarious and funny, even showing a bit of humility and some soul searching.  Don’t read too much into it but the film manages to hit some sentimental notes before it jumps back into the ridiculous premise of obviously adult cops posing as teens to break up some sort of criminal masterminds at a high school.

*images via RottenTomatoes

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