10/5/13

21 JUMP STREET - REVIEW


Mathematically, some films should be disasters and, indeed, many are.

Here's one that somehow slipped through the cracks.

Yes, surprisingly this movie remake of 21 Jump Street nobody asked for and nobody wanted is... not terrible. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are paired up as a jock and a geek who can't stand each other in school then grow up to be cops and best buds until they're put to the test by being made to go undercover back to school in order to catch a drug dealer who's been selling a fatal new product. Once there, they start thinking that maybe this is the perfect opportunity to set some things right since their original high school years were so dire. On paper, this is as obvious and tired as it gets: the whole back to school scenario, all the buddy cop cliches, yet the two leads are likeable enough that they pull it off. The script offers them loads of fun moments to work with and they make the most of it. The supporting cast (Dave Franco, Ice Cube) is also solid and helps provide interesting dynamics between the characters. 

Now, the elephant in the room.

This is pretty much nothing like the show.

There are references to it here and there, a similar basic plot, but this is more Superbad or Pineapple Express than it is 21 Jump Street. This is the kind of movie that could have actually benefited from being called something else entirely. Otherwise, you kinda have to give it an 80's setting and look, like Starsky & Hutch did with the 70's, and follow the plot more directly in order to sell the whole Jump Street thing. Even a last minute, admittedly genius, reveal feels a little tacked-on. As its own thing, as just a light-hearted buddy comedy though, this 21 Jump Street is really just harmless fun. It's not particularly smart or original but it's funny and even kinda sweet in parts. Like Pineapple Express (but, of course, nowhere near as well), the film pokes fun at the cop thriller genre and, for the most part, does a good job with that: explosions don't happen when they're meant to happen, the big villain isn't who'd you'd expect, sliding over car hoods is the most badass thing you could ever do, that kind of thing. Again, I have to go back to the two leads who really hold this movie together, mostly because they seem to be having a really great time. With two lesser actors, this could have easily been a snooze but Hill and, more surprisingly, Tatum add a welcome burst of charm to this one, elevating it to an oddly enjoyable teen comedy.

Didn't think I'd ever say this but I do recommend 21 Jump Street. Don't expect the show, but if you're in the mood for a good, random, cartoonish comedy, you could do much, much worse. It's got enough laughs and mindless action to keep you entertained for a good couple of hours.

A nice surprise.

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