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Review | 21 Jump Street

When I told people a month ago that 21 Jump Street is endlessly entertaining, many were incredulous. Whatever the reason for the response — lackluster marketing or remake malaise, perhaps — I’m hopeful the critical buzz is enough to quell the naysayers. Because, I promise you, 21 Jump Street is the new hotness. Think Superbad meets a John Hughes movie. Think this year’s Bridesmaids. Think immensely quotable, perfectly paced, stomach cramp-inducing hilarity.

Consider the film’s pedigree: You have veteran funny guy Jonah Hill as a star (and co-writer, with Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World‘s Michael Bacall ), the Honorable Mr. Ice Cube, and Step Brothers and The Other Guys actor Rob Riggle (finally given the opportunity to turn in a substantial performance).

But the real gem of 21 Jump Street lies in its comedic newbies, namely: Channing Tatum (you will never, ever look at a fully stocked high school band room the same way again) and the (dare I say) far more charismatic and attractive younger brother to James, Dave Franco, who plays a popular student at the high school the two infiltrate

Hill has admitted this movie doesn’t seek to remake the Johnny Depp-starring ‘80s TV series on which it’s loosely based (the film could stand on its own under another title). However, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who bring their playful Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs mentality to the material, dedicated themselves to researching the source material so they could insert references that die-hard fans will appreciate.

What’s most admirable about 21 Jump Street is that it’s blissfully self-aware: Every joke you could possibly seek to make about stereotypes or plot conventions are made beats before you think of them. The film follows officers Jenko (Tatum) and Schmidt (Hill) , who have a less-than-stellar high school history together, as they strike up an “opposites attract” relationship while training for the police force. Schmidt, the analytical nerdy guy, and Jenko, the physically blessed ex-jock, form a bond by strengthening each other’s weaknesses, and their friendship takes them through a hilarious series of events while on duty. They land on a fledgling project at 21 Jump Street with ornery Captain Dickson (Ice Cube), where they’re assigned to go undercover in high school and seek out the dealer behind a mysterious drug ring.

The two quickly learn that the roles they played during adolescence no longer apply — environmentally aware and well-educated are what makes for popularity these days — which leaves Jenko reeling and Schmidt reigning. The movie does a fantastic job of developing their newfound roles, and all the wrenches that plight throws into their relationship, as an undercurrent to their assignment.

It’s frustrating that I feel the need to preemptively defend 21 Jump Street, as no one but the critics seems convinced at this point. It’d be easy for me to give away a few of the film’s numerous gags in hopes of enticing you, but it’s just the kind of film one doesn’t spoil. You’re going to have to take my word for it: Even at this early juncture in 2012, it’s entirely possible that 21 Jump Street is the funniest movie you’ll see all year.

21 Jump Street opens today nationwide.


  • Coryjameson

    Oh wow. Yet another movie that has two white guys acting like total idiots. And it’s not even funny. PAY NO ATTENTION to the reviewer, THIS MOVIE IS NOT FUNNY. The “jokes” are really dumb. I mean they insult your intelligence.

    Save your money and don’t watch this movie.

  • Statham

    The reviews disagree with you.

  • Guydc3

    Huge fan of the original series. Passing on this. 

  • Zeta Machine

    Nah dude. Trust me it’s worth your time. I was a kid when I watched Tommy Hansan kicking ass. Just trust me. Watch it. There’s something in there if you are a huge fan of the original series you have to watch.

  • Carl Towns

    The movie was funny. 

  • Carl Towns

    The movie was funny. 

  • Anonymous

    saw this tonight and it really is one of the funniest films I’ve seen for a while.  It takes the conventions of these kinds of movie and really messes with them and comes up with a great mix of action and comedy.  The references are taken to the ultimate extreme in a key moment in the climax which catches you by surprise as you think you know how it’s going to go down.  The teases on the freeway car chase pay off hilariously at the end too.  Believe the review. It really is that good.

  • BDrake82

    It is a shame because this movie really is funny.  Comedy done right for once this year.

  • Jacob

    It’s only March.

  • Michael J

    I actually enjoyed the film.The Johnny Depp cameo was awesome and I can say anymore about the films greatness.

  • Christinereed

    I just don’t understand why people have to remake TV shows as parodies. If you want to make a parody, why not do like Galaxy Quest, which is truly funny, but never pretends to be a Star Trek movie. Or, if they wanted to make a Police Academy movie, then make a Police Academy movie.

    The movie may be as funny as you say, but because it’s titled 21 Jump Street, it just seems like a lame attempt to make fun of a former TV show (as so many other movies have done before).

  • dax

     why you gotta be racist?

  • Jacob

    It’s not a parody… It’s a comedy featuring a similar premise and title. They’re not mocking the series.

  • Kelly

    This movie was so damn good!

  • Jay Blaze

    Film was 17 types of Bad-Ass!!! Closest thing to an American version of Hot Fuzz!!!