Personally, there were reasonable expectations when approaching the new Seth Rogan-helmed comedy, This is the End. Co-written by Evan Goldberg (whose claim to fame was co-writing Superbad and Pineapple Express with Rogan) as well as taking the director’s chair for the first time, the comedic possibilities about an end-of-the-world scenario are actually limitless when done right. Read more
Tag: Jonah Hill
In the past few years, we’ve seen an influx of movies based on old television shows, many of which have been awful. Even though Starsky & Hutch had an amazing cast (Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman) and a talented director (Todd Phillips), the movie fell flat with audiences who expected so much more. Get Smart suffered the same fate, despite starring Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway. And did anyone even see The A-Team?
Now we have 21 Jump Street, based on the campy drama that ran from 1987-1991 and made Johnny Depp famous. The movie is not only hilarious, but deceptively intelligent. It works because the filmmakers acknowledge that a movie version of 21 Jump Street is an absurd idea. They even go so far as to have one character, Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman), admit, in reference to two grown men passing as high school students, that the “the guys who come up with this stuff have run out of ideas.” Brilliant.
In the movie, two less-than-capable rookie cops, Schmidt (Hill) and Renko (Tatum), are assigned to an undercover operation to infiltrate a high school drug ring. Even though they are yet to make an arrest, they are chosen for the assignment because they’re some young-looking, “Justin Beaver motherfuckers.” When they arrive at their new school, Schmidt and Renko, who pretend to be brothers, begin looking for the source of the new synthetic drug that has caused at least one death already. As they do, their fake high school experience draws them apart as they fall into drastically different social circles.
Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller and screenwriter Michael Bacall have made 21 Jump Street exactly what it should be: a ridiculous, implausible movie for a ridiculous, implausible concept. Lord and Miller are having a blast just letting their incredibly talented cast run wild. Hill gives one of his funniest performances yet, while also showing some growth as an actor. Tatum is equally impressive, scoring some of the movie’s funniest lines while also creating a believable character with some depth.
The crux of the film, though, is the relationship (“bromance,” if you must) between Schmidt and Jenko. In high school, Schmidt was a dorky, Eminem wannabe and Jenko was the popular jock. Though they bond during the police academy (Schmidt helping Jenko study, Jenko helping Schmidt get in shape), their second go around at high school opens another chasm between them as Schmidt falls in with the popular kids and Jenko is befriended by the Chemistry nerds. The back and forth never feels forced and there are even some genuine moments of honest emotion.
Almost overshadowing the two leads are supporting cast members Rob Riggle and Dave Franco. Riggle plays Mr. Walters, the high school track coach who you know has crossed the line with many of his female students. Franco, always a great douchebag, plays Eric, the leader of the cool kids and an eco-friendly, green crusader. We also get a terrific performance from Ellie Kemper (The Office) as the sexually-charged teacher who throws herself at Jenko.
Bottom line: Go see 21 Jump Street. Then, go see it again to catch all the jokes you missed the first time because you were laughing so hard.
21 Jump Street
Run time: 109 minutes
Directed by: Phil Lord & Chris Miller
Written by: Michael Bacall, story by Michael Bacall & Jonah Hill, based on television series 21 Jump Street
Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Nick Offerman, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Ice Cube, Rob Riggle, Ellie Kemper