The first big comedy of the year has hit and despite sounding like a lazy rehash of an old TV show it’s anything but. 21Jump Street, adapted from the 80s cop drama of the same name is now a raunchy comedy film starring Channing Tatum and a not-quite-fat but not-quite-thin Jonah Hill. Also co-written by Jonah Hill, 21 Jump Street runs away with a premise full of limitless comedic possibilities and delivers on both the laughs and action that we as moviegoers all crave.
Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) are two youthful cops that despite their inabilities as successful officers are best friends. Growing up on different sides of the high school spectrum, Schmidt being a nerd and Jenko being cool, the two eventually accept each other’s differences when they both find themselves together in the police academy. After they complete their training, and after a comic misadventure as bike cops, the two immature officers find themselves in a secret program led by at the angry Capt. Dickson (Ice Cube) where young-looking officers go undercover at high schools, the location of this program’s facility? “21 Jump Street”. Thus Schmidt and Jenko find themselves undercover as students in attempt to bring down a burgeoning teenage drug circuit, hilarity ensues.
First off, I commend the filmmakers for avoiding the easy character route for Schmidt and Jenko. It would of been so easy to make them rivals, but I find it much more compelling for them to be best friends and for the drama to come from peer pressure straining their relationship. The characters are very likable and surprisingly have good chemistry together. I can honestly say this is the first time I’ve ever liked Channing Tatum, perhaps because his character is as dumb as a post and that a lot of humor can come from the fact that he looks much older than everyone else. Hill of course delivers as always, excelling as the insecure yet lovable Schmidt.
But perhaps the most appealing aspect in this films is that it’s not afraid to make fun of itself. There is even a scene where a police chief played by Nick Offerman says in regards to the program, “We’re reviving an old undercover-in-high-school program from the 1980s, because the only idea anyone can come up with now is to recycle shit from the past.” It really is refreshing to hear that kind of honesty in today’s landscape of remakes and reboots. Another great jab at the genre comes from a high speed chase where the characters keep expecting things to explode but then they don’t, you gotta see it to believe it.
Really there isn’t anything new about 21 Jump Street, the makers would be the first ones to tell you that, but it’s inspiring to see someone take something tired and old and put some life into it. I think there will always be a certain appeal to raunchy high school movies and it’s always a treat to see a buddy cop film where you actually care about the friendship. Sounds like Sony Pictures has already given the green light for a 21 Jump Street sequel, so it’ll only be a matter of time before were going back to school.