Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

21 Jump Street

Vulgar and Hilarious

Rated: R  Drug material, crude and sexual content, pervasive language, some violence and teen drinking
Release Date: March 16, 2012
Runtime: 1 hr 50 mins

Director:  Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Writers: Michael Bacall, Jonah Hill, based on the television series created by Patrick Hasburgh and Stephen J. Cannell
Cast:  Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Rob Riggle, DeRay Davis, Ice Cube, Chris Parnell, Ellie Kemper

SYNOPSIS: A pair of over enthusiastic and underachieving are demoted to a defunct police program where they are sent undercover as high school students to discover the source of a synthetic drug ring.

REVIEW: From Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the directors of the soon-to-be classic Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Am I kidding? You be the judge), takes a shot at their first big-screen non-animated adventure. Based on a script and story by Michael Bacall (Project X) and Jonah Hill, and sourced from Stephen J. Cannell and Patrick Hasburgh's 1980s Fox television series of the same name, will 21 Jump Street be a bulls eye or miss the mark entirely?
Insecure geek Schmidt (Jonah Hill, The Sitter) and slacker jock Jenko (Channing Tatum, The Vow) graduate high school without going to prom. Schmidt didn't have a date and Jenko was barred from attending. A few years later, they find themselves face to face again as they both sign up for the Metropolitan City Police Department academy. Schmidt excels at the paperwork, while Jenko uses his muscles and athletics to overcome the obstacle course and shooter ranges. Knowing they can't graduate without the expertise of the other, they team up to get to graduation. Their dreams of car chases, gun fights, and explosions are short-lived as they are assigned to bicycle patrol. When their first bust goes without Miranda and the perp is set free, Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman, Parks and Recreation) demotes the pair to a revived cancelled undercover program due to their youthful appearance headquartered at 21 Jump Street. After a drug-related death of a high school student, Captain Dickson (Ice Cube, Lottery Ticket) assigns Schmidt and Jenko to go undercover as brothers in the same high school to root out the drug's dealers and supplier. Because of a screw-up, Schmidt is put into the breeze classes like Drama and Photography, while Jenko is put into AP Chemistry. Along the way, Schmidt finds himself out of his element as he cozies up to the popular Eco-cool crowd with Eric (Dave Franco, Fright Night) and Molly (Brie Larson, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World). Jenko has the same issues while running with the geek squad including members like Zack (Dax Flame, Project X).

If you are looking for the 1987 Fox television series 21 Jump Street that you grew up on, or watched in syndication, you will be both pleased and disappointed. Sure, cops with young-ish looks are thrust into undercover work at the high school level. The tone of the film is completely different from the TV series, 
leaning to the vulgar and the hilarious over actual dramatic substance. In fact, while keeping with some of the same concepts as from the show, the writers (including Jonah Hill) actually poke fun at those same concepts as well. A cool classic car is included, but Deputy Chief Hardy makes a funny and obvious reference to old retreaded ideas, and chemistry teacher Ms. Griggs (Ellie Kemper, Bridesmaids) and Mr. Walters (Rob Riggle, Big Miracle) have obvious reactions to Jenko's chiseled muscle presence.

Jonah Hill brings his signature style to the role of Schmidt, channeling a bit of Superbad and The Sitter. He's fun to watch, with good comic timing and hilarious wide-eyed expressions. Channing Tatum flexes his comedy muscles as Jonah's athletic straight man, surprising me with his likability beyond his romantic and dramatic efforts. Dave Franco, younger brother to James Franco, carves his own path as the shark-smiled snark drug dealer who, unlike many of his brother's stoner roles, does not use his own product. Riggle tries to be the mature one as one of the teachers, voluming down his manic nature a notch or two. Also notable is Ice Cube's Captain Dickson who embraces the angry African American police captain stereotype.

21 Jump Street is a hilarious farce that pays homage to the Stephen J. Cannell source material. Typical genre stereotypes are embraced or put on end. Throughout the film, laughter follows hilarious disgust and funny prat falls. Filled with phallic references, dry humping, coarse language and some nudity, fans of The Hangover and the American Pie series will be doubling over in laughter at this re-envisioned take of the original. As evident from the trailer, even Holly Robinson Peete makes an appearance with a reprised role of 
Officer Judy Hoffs.  

21 Jump Street is a great enjoyable surprise. I knew from the trailers that it was angling for action comedy over young action drama, but I left the theater with a smile on my face and good things to say. The R rating is warranted and proves that the film is not for the youngest of crowds, but even those kids who managed to get into the audience enjoyed Hill on the high school stage in tights and wires. 21 Jump Street is not what we remember from 1987, and is better for it. I wonder when the Richard Grieco Booker movie is scheduled to come out to the silver screen?

WORTH: Matinee and DVD

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