Film Review: 21 Jump Street

Posted in Film, Reviews
By Sam Bathe on 14 Mar 2012

Based on the ‘80s crime drama TV series that helped launch the career of Johnny Depp, 21 Jump Street the movie, however, take the franchise down a different route.

Star and executive producer Jonah Hill described the film as “an R-rated, insane, Bad Boys-meets-John Hughes-type movie”, and he’s not far wrong. 21 Jump Street has a dark humour that runs through its veins; a departure from the TV series that allows it to capture it’s own identity.

Two high school alumni from the opposite ends of the popularity scale form an unlikely friendship when they both try out for the police force. One the brains, the other the brawn, they team up to share their strengths and cancel out each other’s weaknesses, in the end both graduating with flying colours. But the rag-tag duo aren’t necessarily appreciated by their department and sent out on parks patrol, weeks in Greg (Tatum) and Morton (Hill) are yet to make an arrest, then when they finally do, they mess that up too.

A last resort, Greg and Morton are assigned to the Jump Street Division, a task force that sends undercover cops back into high school to tackle problems at the heart of the local youth, only for these two, it’s a widespread drug bust they need to handle, something their new boss (Ice Cube) thinks is well beyond them.

Walking into 21 Jump Street, I expected a lot of silly fun, and while I got that, I enjoyed the whole spectacle a lot more than I thought I would as well. Directed by Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs’ Phil Lord and Chris Miller, their influence has a lot to do with how funny the film is, playing on action stereotypes and referencing other genre staples to great effect.

While the film struggles at the start as Tatum and Hill share little chemistry, they improve minute by minute and are one of the shining lights by the end, their journey boasting a surprising emotional pull.

There are plenty of entertaining cameos along the way as even an utterly ridiculous Ice Cube gets away with his performance. The high school kids are all impressive, Dave Franco and Brie Larson especially, Ellie Kemper as he boys’ teacher is hilarious too, it’s just a pity we don’t see more of her. The same goes for Nick Offerman who as a police chief, essentially playing a fully bearded Ron Swanson, will delight Parks And Recreation fans no end.

21 Jump Street is far from a class ic, if it were an original story we might have still been talking about it in 10 years, but nevertheless it’s well worth a chance, and you’ll be surprised what you get out of it.


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