21 JUMP STREET (2012)
Director:Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Brie Larson, Ice Cube, Dave Franco, Rob Riggle, DeRay Davis, Jake M. Johnson, Johnny Simmons, Johnny Depp, Johnny Pemberton, Dakota Johnson, Ellie Kemper
Runtime: 1 hr 49 mins
Rating: M18 (Coarse Language, Sexual Scenes and Drug Use)
Released By: Sony Pictures Releasing International
Official Website: http://www.21jumpstreet-movie.com/
Opening Day: 10 May 2012
Synopsis: 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.
“21 Jump Street” pulls through with such conviction in its absurdity that it becomes better than it really has any right to be. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as bumbling police officers who get reassigned to an undercover unit operating from an abandoned Korean church. Their mission soon becomes clear – assume identities of high school students and ferret out the supplier of a deadly new drug called HFS (Holy %&#!). The film lacks a certain polish but the insane idealism it holds sustains the lesser sequences that plod along its one-note premise. Co-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller last feature was the well-received animated comedy “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and with this effort, they have surprised once again in how energetic and self-reflexively clever they have made its late 1980s television series premise (starring a young Johnny Depp) become. As a reimagining (but perhaps more accurately a spinoff), this repackages the idea and sends it up in countless ways.
Tatum and Hill form a credible chemistry in the film but never truly coalesces into anything truly memorable. The narratives digress and break up into various vignettes of tomfoolery and inane jackassery between them – one scene had them faux-jump out of the way of an approaching muscle car. It’s funnier than how it sounds. And that’s precisely how the film plays out. Everything is elevated by the sheer fatuity of the material and its characters. They are acutely aware that they are objects of ridicule but they embrace it, taking it miles away from the original series’ serious tone. The cutaways show so much verve and comic naturalism that it completely outshines much of the scenes that settle into the narrative. There’s a sense that the film is never quite as funny as when it moves away from propelling the story forward – it’s the throwaway gags that matter, the asides between Tatum and Hill or the interactions that have with their environment. There’s also terrific casting in play here and a great measure of scene-stealers in different roles. Nick Offerman, Ice Cube, Rob Riggle, James Franco etc. – each of them do extremely well in taking the comic responsibilities away from its leads. Importantly, they create memorable personalities in a film that could have coasted along with its central performances.
Even through the film’s rougher sequences where scripted scenes loose a sense of focus and begins to fall into a lull in its comedy, the film garners enough goodwill by being such a good sport about itself. It hits the meta vein over and over again to remind the audience that it’s not going to be a perfect film but it keeps plugging away with such gusto that it’s hard not to get swept away by its self-effacing attitude in pursuit of a fun time.
(Funnier than it has any right to be)
Review by Justin Deimen
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