21 Jump Street

  • Director – Phil Lord and Chris Miller
  • Starring – Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill
  • Writer – Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill
  • Year – 2012
  • Length – 110 mins

At some point Hollywood is going to run out of 80’s movies or TV shows to remake.  I often wonder what will happen when they have all gone twice around the track?  Third time’s the charm?  Let’s hope not, this has to end at some point, doesn’t it?

It was with this feeling that I cautiously approached the latest 80s remake.  This time it was the turn of 21 Jump Street, apparently a popular US TV show from 1987, which famously gave Johnny Depp his big break, but strangely I don’t recall ever seeing it growing up. This time around we see Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum), playing an ex-high school nerd and jock, who are forced into an unlikely pairing after enrolling in Police Academy and using their combination of brawn and brains to get through basic training.  After an enthusiastic and somewhat optimistic drugs bust goes amusingly array the two are shipped out to 21 Jump Street, an undercover unit run by Captain Dickson (Ice Cube), set up to infiltrate high school drug networks.

It is here that the film and indeed the Hill and Tatum double act finds its feet.  High school has clearly changed since these two last attended.  Schmidt and Jenko are still at opposite ends of the high school cool spectrum but this time there is some role reversal.  Grades and the environment are the new barometers of cool, so Schmidt gets to experience the kind of high school experience he always dreamt of, whilst Jenko’s quickly turns into nightmare. Can Schmidt and Jenko manage to bridge the social divide in the name of law enforcement?

I genuinely liked 21 Jump Street. Apparently it only bears a passing resemblance to the 80s show, which maybe is why it stands up so well on its own?   Hill and Tatum worked well together and both seemed completely at ease as a double act.  They deliver the requisite six laughs for a comedy before the first half hour is done.  The following hour is well paced, entertaining and really quite watchable.  Who knew Tatumn could crack a joke as well as bust a move?  Probably not even him.   The supporting cast are universally good, with a standout performance from an angry Ice Cube.  Its good to have him back in an angry role for a change.  There is also a notable cameo or two worth keeping your eyes peeled for.

Hill and Tatum are both at similar stages in their career. They are making commercially and occasionally critically successful films, but you get the feeling they are both still some distance from being able to carry a film on their own.  The decision to team them up and share the load was a sensible one. Whilst it is no Starsky and Hutch, 21 Jump Street is head and shoulders above some of the turgid 80s remakes we have been subjected to recently and significantly better than some of the tired frat boy films which have been churned out of late.  Check it out and let me know what do you think?

★★★

Review by Will Malone
 
If you liked this, then try American Reunion