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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
21 Jump Street, the comedic adaptation of the 1980s police drama, is a very funny movie. For me, I find that comedies are very hit-or-miss. Many mainstream ones tend to focus their humor on gross-out gags or potty humor. Not that anything is wrong with that sort of thing; I just miss it when a tent-pole comedy can rise above that and truly deliver. 21 Jump Street does just that.
Starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as two misfit police officers recruited to go undercover as high school students (due to their somewhat young looks) in order to discover who is behind a drug racket. It is a fairly simple plot (and it has to be), but it allows the filmmakers to really develop Hill and Tatum’s characters and their relationship. Honestly, I really felt that these guys were very well-rounded and their ups and downs of their friendship were played very believably. This is also something I find missing from many comedies.
Hill and Tatum have a wonderful chemistry between them. Like Zack had mentioned months ago, I too have become burnt out on Jonah Hill. To be honest, I never really liked him to begin with. This movie, though, has me changing my opinion. He broke away from the schlubby dick-and-fart joke type character he typically portrays. This proves to me that with the right material, he can be a solid comic actor. Tatum, who I do not share the hate the internet has for him, is fantastic in this. Honestly, he has fantastic comic timing, and I want to see him do more comedies in the future. If people are still hating on him as being a bad actor, then they clearly have not seen 21 Jump Street. I will stand by that comment. The movie plays on the already-established images Hill and Tatum somewhat have in pop-culture and completely run with it.
Beyond that, the movie works very well as a whole. The comedy in it is refreshing and very manic at times. Jokes just whip by at a frantic pace with a subversive tone, and it is the performances that really sell it. I also appreciated the little details the movie had such as the extended 1990s sequence early in the movie. It was pitch-perfect of what high school was like in the 90s down to the clothing and hair styles. Most movies would not go to the extra that effort 21 Jump Street did, but because this movie did, it made it more enduring to me.
Also, watch for Johnny Depp’s terrific surprise cameo.
Not everything works however. Some of the subplots come off a bit superfluous, such as Ellie Kemper’s teacher character who has an uncontrollable attraction to Tatum and the female rival pair of cops who keep showing up our heroes. The only real major thing I had a problem with was the romance between Hill’s character and a female student. On one hand, it was developed well, but on the other, we are supposed to be rooting for them while forgetting that they are about 7 to 10 years apart in age. It is a bit creepy. However, those flaws do not really detract from the overall movie and are something one can easily turn a blind eye too.
Go check out 21 Jump Street. It is hilarious and one of the best recent comedies I have seen in a while. Hill and Tatum are great together, it keeps the dirty humor in check with some very clever bits, and it is just an overall fun ride of a film. You will not be disappointed.