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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > 21 Jump Street

MOVIE REVIEWS

21 JUMP STREET (2012)

Starring Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Rob Riggle, Ice Cube, DeRay Davis, Dax Flame, Chris Parnell, Ellie Kemper, Jake M. Johnson, Nick Offerman, Holly Robinson Peete, Peter DeLuise, Richard Grieco and Johnny Depp.

Screenplay by Michael Bacall.

Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller.

Distributed by Columbia Pictures.  109 minutes.  Rated R.

 

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21 Jump Street

Who'd've thought? Pretty boy flavor of the month Channing Tatum may not be much of a dramatic actor, but it turns out he's a kick-ass comedian.

Maybe saying he is not much of an actor is a bit unfair, but he has spent the last year or two shoehorned into roles that were way outside his comfort zone, for example the medieval Roman action film The Eagle, the New York cop melodrama The Son of No One and the soppy romance The Vow. 

In fact, in our review of The Son of No One, we suggested that perhaps Channing was turning into the new generation's Keanu Reeves.  Reeves too is a pretty good actor (check out his debut in The River's Edge sometime) who became a bit of a joke because he kept getting cast as characters that were outside of his dramatic range.  He also never quite outlived the fact that one of his earliest hits was the comedy Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure - which was actually a terrific comedy, but seemed to label Reeves as a dopehead slacker for life in many eyes.  Anytime someone wants to razz on Reeves, Bill & Ted is mentioned front and center.

Perhaps we should have known Tatum could bring the funny from the otherwise unremarkable Ron Howard comedy The Dilemma, where Tatum played the supporting role of a himbo weightlifter and pretty much stole his scenes from more well-known comic forces like Vince Vaughan and Kevin James.

However, luckily for him, his 21 Jump character of Jenko will probably not become Tatum's Bill & Ted albatross, even though the character is somewhat similar.

It might help that this is an even funnier, smarter movie.

It was a bit of a stroke of genius to team him with comic actor Jonah Hill, who has also shown himself to be capable of serious dramatic chops in last years' acclaimed performance in Moneyball.  Hill also conceived of and helped write this cracked yet surprisingly hip look at a pop culture curio.

Based on the later 80s TV series that is best known now for making a star out of Johnny Depp and being one of the first hits for the fledgling FOX network, 21 Jump Street takes a very irreverent look at a favorite fantasy that also spurred the original book of Fast Times at Ridgemont High and many other books and films.  What would happen if you were able to go back to high school as an adult and fit is as one of the kids?  Would you be able to handle it better with all your life experiences?  Or would it be as miserable as it was the first time around?

Hill and Tatum play young screw-up cops who get assigned to go undercover in a high school to infiltrate a drug ring.  It is the very same high school that they had gone to several years earlier, where they hated each other.  Tatum was the BMOC jock, Hill was the fat science nerd.

In truth, I've never seen even a second of the TV series, but I am under the impression that other than its fanciful premise it was more of a pretty standard crime drama than the wicked social satire that plays out in the movie.

The movie takes the premise and turns it on its head.  The gorgeous jock becomes a pariah because he is dumb.  The loser is beloved because he is smart and insecure.  The drug dealers are obsessed with global warming.

The story doesn't matter though, it just lays out the template for some wild parties and even more crazed comic violence.  However, 21 Jump Street is so hip and good-hearted.  It's also easily the funniest movie in this new year.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2012 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 20, 2012.

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Copyright ©2012 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 20, 2012.

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