In the action-comedy 21 Jump Street, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are more than ready to leave their adolescent problems behind. Joining the police force and the secret Jump Street unit, they use their youthful appearances to go undercover in a local high school. As they trade in their guns and badges for backpacks, Schmidt and Jenko risk their lives to investigate a violent and dangerous drug ring. But they find that high school is nothing like they left it just a few years earlier - and neither expects that they will have to confront the terror and anxiety of being a teenager again and all the issues they thought they had left behind.
TV Series: 21 Jump Street: The Complete Series
21 Jump Street, the movie adaptation of the popular 1980s television series of the same name starring Johnny Depp, may be viewed as comedy fodder--or simply, a waste of film stock. Any of these preconceived notions of the film should be cast aside, because 21 Jump Street is by far one of the funniest buddy-cop films to make its way into theatres since Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) ran amuck in Beverly Hills Cop.
Opening with Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady" blasting in the background, the time period is 2005, and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) is a sad excuse for a teenager in high school with his Eminem styled bleach blonde hair and outfit to match. Jenko (Channing Tatum) is the typical bully, and bullying Schmidt's Slim Shadiness gives him happiness--his shoulder-length hair should be cause for teasing but Jenko is the cool-kid jock. Flash forward seven years and Schmidt and Jenko find themselves in the same police officer training program. The brains and the brawn they each represent, respectfully, team up in order to make it through the program, becoming the closest of friends and partners. Their road to police officer awesomeness hits a snag when they are assigned to park officer bicycle duty; and their first arrest is botched by epic proportions. Thanks to Jenko and Schmidt's youthful appearances, or dimwittedness (you be the judge), they are assigned to the Jump Street undercover unit, headed up by the hysterical Ice Cube's Captain Dickson. Jenko and Schmidt are going undercover to find the source of a new drug that has hit the high school circuit, and become all anyone could talk about when it took the life of a teenager.
High school is not the same place it was in 2005, and this is where 21 Jump Street excels as a film. The comedy is rooted in the twist on showcasing how things have changed in such a short amount of time. The once considered cool kid muscle car is now seen as a gas-guzzling eye sore on the green movement--a movement the teens have all adopted, bikes powered by recycled oil for fuel included. The nerds have taken over as the popular kids, and Schmidt and Jenko are now in different social circles given their proclivities. 21 Jump Street becomes the movie about commenting on change, and it does so by making nearly everything Schmidt and Jenko do hilarious; including their interactions with other Jump Street cops and their Captain.
The actual plot of may be simple; busting a teenage fueled drug ring happens consistently on procedural television dramas. It is the non-stop laughs, the perfectly timed performances by Tatum, Hill, and the rest of the cast, plus a seemingly endless parade of nostalgic commentary on the generation gap, that makes 21 Jump Street a great time at the movies--even more so for those who did not grow up during the green age and who remember using a home telephone.
Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) are the perfect odd couple for a cop-buddy movie. The handsome, tall, well-built and muscular Jenko excels with the physicality of being a police officer. Schmidt is awkward, insecure, and unstable in his ability to perform the functions of being a cop away from the desk. On their own they make a complete mess of a police officer; together, they are the perfect one. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum make being a team look like a great deal of fun, as they help each other make something out of their law enforcement careers. The relationship between them is one of opposites, and there are plenty of comedic jabs aimed at both of them to not allow for favoritism over the brains or the brawn. It the chemistry between the two men, and their respective characters, that essentially gives more to 21 Jumo Street. They are partners who become friends and friends who become like brothers--both literally undercover and figuratively within the story. Spending time with the duo of Schmidt and Jenko, Tatum and Hill, is time well spent.
Jonah Hill (Superbad) is known as a comedic actor. Channing Tatum, the go-to young stud muscle man is mostly seen in romances and action flicks. Ice Cube, well, who knew he could even do comedy? After 21 Jump Street Channing Tatum and Ice Cube would make a great addition to any comedy film being made, and Jonah Hill remains a comedian who embraces the awkward, making it both charming and hilarious at the same time.
In 21 Jump Street the laughs come in consistent waves. Whether it is Ice Cube admitting to being an at-times angry black man, and therefore for everyone in Jump Street to embrace their stereotypes, or Channing Tatum wearing a sweatshirt featuring an element from the periodic table, 21 Jump Street will not cease to make any viewer laugh. Some viewers may find it more funny than others because of its use of the topical and nostalgic for high school life. Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) grew up in the early-to-mid 00's. In just seven years the world has drastically changed. The home telephone is a relic, and having Schmidt use it to call his possible love interest, who happens to be in high school, leads to hilarity. Jenko gets his share of laughs by being the ostracized one in this high school reality. He gets delegated to the science/technology nerd circle--and by doing so opens up a variety of ways for the audience to laugh at his expense. 21 Jump Street is a comedy that fulfills the promise of being funny from start to finish, a rarity amongst most and a welcome surprise.
March 16, 2012