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21 Jump Street


Touché Channing Tatum. Touché. When I first heard that it would be Tatum and Jonah Hill as the stars of 21 Jump Street, I thought there’d be no chance the duo could mutually coexist in a comedic fashion. Thankfully, my presumptions were off base and proven to be ill-advised.

Grade:

If you don’t know the story by now…you live under a rock, but for you cave-dwellers here it is. Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) are assigned to go undercover in a high school to sniff out the dealers and suppliers of a dangerous new drug. Schmidt is the brains; Jenko is the brawn. In this version, Jenko confuses his new identity and is forced to portray the nerdy brother, while Schmidt is stuck pretending to be the jock.

Having never seen the original, I had no basis of expectations for accuracy and references to the show, which turned out to be a non-factor considering there were no jokes that seemed inserted just for nostalgic viewers. Another aspect that was thankfully abandoned was Schmidt posing as the jock. Hill may have lost a bunch of weight, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t look weird running track or performing athletic feats reserved for the Tatums of the acting world.

Where Jump Street excels is keeping a steady frame of identity throughout the film. Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller did an excellent job balancing the Hill-Tatum dynamic, new high school landscape and a running film commentary. There are numerous references to ridiculous moments in films (explosions in particular) that add a special, silly facet to the jokes being thrown out and keep the mood light. Having just finished college – or within a year or two – like Schmidt and Jenko, it was refreshing to see a realistic and genuine return to a completely renovated high school social life. Nothing about the social scene remained static over the years and they learn that the hard way – well, Jenko learns it the hard way.

As mentioned, Tatum goes above and beyond what was assumed from him. He clearly went out of his way to enjoy the role and take the time to have fun with his costars. The supporting cast is entertaining in their own rights from James..er.. Dave Franco to Ice Cube and Ellie Kemper and a special cameo. Some, especially Kemper and Nick Offerman, are underused, but that is only a minor quibble of mine.

As for the humor, it is immature. What else can really be said? It is a movie about returning to high school. Did anyone have a refined sense of humor in high school? If you say yes, you’re lying. The genitalia – male and female – are abundant and crude, but never in truly bad or offensive taste.

All in all 21 Jump Street proves to be a highly enjoyable movie-going experience. You won’t leave thinking, “Wow that was amazing”, but you won’t leave sorely disappointed either. If you can handle mindless humor and let yourself go for a bit, then you will have a great time – clearly the crew did.

*If you’re running late don’t be afraid, the trailer is basically the first 3 min of the film.

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