Friday, March 16, 2012
21 Jump Street - Movie Review
Starring Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Ice Cube, Rob Riggle, Ellie Kemper, Jake Johnson, Chris Parnell and Nick Offerman. Directed by Phil Lord & Chris Miller.
When I first saw the trailer a few months ago I thought it looked terrible, like a candidate for worst movie of the year. And yet, it's the funniest movie I've seen in several months.
Let me first speak to Channing Tatum. With his body, he has to do action pics, but in such movies like GI Joe and The Eagle, I don't find him that compelling. He's had success in chick flicks (Dear John, The Vow), but after being the funniest part about The Dilemma, and now this, I'm convinced Tatum's strength is comedy.
He and Jonah Hill make a great team. We start in 2005, when the two were in high school. Hill plays Schmidt, the insecure nerdy outcast, and Tatum is Jenko, the dumb bullying jock. They meet again in police academy and decide to be friends. Schmidt helps Jenko with studying, Jenko helps Schmidt with physical training.
Flash-forward to 2012, and the two are enlisted in the recently resurrected Jump Street program, where young-looking cops infiltrate high school as narcs. Thos who remember the show will recognize in-jokes here and there, but those who haven't seen it will never feel lost.
The movie plays on stereotypes and expectations and subverts them over and over. Directors Lord & Miller, of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs fame, have no problem transitioning their chaotic sense of humor to live-action. There's also several fun small roles for TV comedy vets like Ellie Kemper (The Office), Nick Offerman (Parks & Recreation), Jake Johnson (New Girl), Chris Parnell (Suburgatory), and so forth.