Saturday, March 17, 2012

Review: 21 Jump Street

The original 21 Jump Street series was a television drama, with serious overtones, and a standard, cop/mystery attitude. So when I learned they were making a movie remake, I groaned. I was expecting another run-of-the-mill remake that paled in comparison to its predecessor and managed to add nothing new to the story. Well, I am glad to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the newly updated 21 Jump Street. A self-aware switch to comedy, combined with incredible chemistry between its two stars, 21 Jump Street is hilarious, refreshing, and will most likely be one of the most entertaining experiences you will have in a theater all year.

Schmidt (Jonah Hill) was the Eminem-look alike dork, Jenko (Channing Tatum) the popular jock. While on opposite sides of the social circle in high school, they soon both find themselves in the police academy, and find they are nice complements to one another, helping each other graduate. However, after mundane duty, and an arrest gone awry, they are transferred to a program revived from the 80's in which police men go undercover at local high schools to bust for drugs, located, of course on 21 Jump Street. After infiltrating with the kids at school, Schmidt and Jenko, began to try to track down the supplier who is spreading a new drug. Prom becomes the spot for the big shakedown, leading to an epically fun, and action-packed conclusion.

Let's be honest, the setup for 21 Jump Street is weak, the action sequences at the end try just a little too hard, and it definitely fills itself with a lot of cliches. But despite that, 21 Jump Street is guilty-pleasure, raucous, laugh-out loud funny throughout, and while you may be ashamed, you will end up loving how much fun you have in the theater. There are two factors that make this a success. First, it is incredibly self-aware that it is ripping off a television show. It acknowledges many of those aforementioned cliches and stereotypes, and embraces them whole-heartedly. You have to admire a film that recognizes its own flaws, and more importantly, its history (in more ways than you think). The other factor that really clicks is the surprising chemistry between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. Hill is no surprise for me, but Tatum showed me that he can be charismatic, funny, and actaully a pretty good actor. He needs to stick to comedy, and stay away from those cheesy Nicholas Sparks-esque dramas where he usually fails, because he found an incredible groove with Hill that is truly fun to watch.

21 Jump Street won't be winning any awards anytime soon, but it is a wonderfully funny film that will have you rolling in the aisle, and one of the most entertaining films I have seen in a long time.

Grade: A-

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