Movie Review: 21 Jump Street
Films opening this weekend:
21 Jump Street - Maple Ridge; Market Arcade; Elmwood, Transit, Galleria, Quaker, Hollywood Regals; Flix
Being Flynn - North Park Dipson
Casa de Mi Padre - Transit Regal
Jeff, Who Lives at Home - Amherst Dipson
Screenwriters Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill made the right move when they decided their 21 Jump Street would be a continuation of the original television series and not a remake. This isn't your older brother and sister's "21 Jump Street"—it isn't old enough to say Mom and Dad's—as there is a lot of swearing, a ton of sexual innuendo, and a fair share of stupidity. These boys didn't earn their undercover work this time; they were exiled to it.
Channing Tatum's Jenko and Hill's Schmidt are newly graduated police officers who are immature, temperamental, and two disparate halves of what one good cop should be. Hollywood coincidence shows the "cool" Jenko and "nerd" Schmidt moving from opposite sides of the high school spectrum to grown-up adults, becoming friends in the process.
But as Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) so astutely relays in one of his angry black cop rants, stereotypes are the name of the game here on Jump Street. The rub, however, is that although only seven years have passed, the sociological patterns of senior high have evolved exponentially. The green, caring, and hard-working portion have become the cool untouchables who now look at the jocks with wrinkled noses and an air of superiority.
Tasked to infiltrate a drug ring as brothers, the boys find themselves living with Schmidt's parents and reliving the adventure of adolescence with varying degrees of déjà vu. Hill's Schmidt becomes the toast of the town with his awkward ability to be self-deprecating and Tatum's Jenko finds the wondrous world of blowing things up with science a perfect release for his simpleton character.
Bacall and Hill have gone above and beyond to create an environment for their characters to shine with a kick-ass kegger, school play rehearsals, and the hilarious dress up as your favorite molecule gag in chem class. Directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord—of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs fame—keep the aesthetic authentic and do a great job separating the microcosm of teenage life and the dark, scary world of biker gangs and freeway chases with the potential of fiery death.
A fun supporting cast rounds out the antics with DeRay Davis' bad-ass street thug creating a pretty volatile foe and teachers Rob Riggle and Ellie Kemper. Brie Larson provides a sweet love interest for Hill that evolves realistically and Jenko's science nerd friends are in perfect opposition to everything that he stands for. And with a couple brilliantly placed cameos—don't think Holly Robinson Peete's return as Hoffs is the only easter egg you'll get—the comedy stays consistent for the duration and has enough of a marriage between utter stupidity and solid craftmanship to hold audience interest.
Considering I am in the minority in thinking The Green Hornet was a lot of fun, comparing 21 Jump Street to that reboot may not be as glowing a recommendation as I intend it to be. The parallels are many, however, as Hill and Seth Rogen optioned their childhood TV favorites to bring the material into more comical territory—not to mention utilizing a Franco (little brother Dave shows up here). But while I enjoyed Rogen and co-star Jay Chou's chemistry in Hornet, Tatum and Hill can't be beat. Never dull or too over-the-top, their relationship works because its odd couple pairing is totally believable.
21 Jump Street 7/10 | ★ ★ ★
 Jonah Hill, left, and Channing Tatum star in Columbia Pictures' action comedy "21 Jump Street." PHOTO BY: Scott Garfield © 2011 Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved. **ALL IMAGES ARE PROPERTY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY. SALE, DUPLICATION OR TRANSFER OF THIS MATERIAL IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.
 L-r, Ice Cube, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star in Columbia Pictures' action comedy "21 Jump Street." PHOTO BY: Scott Garfield © 2011 Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved. **ALL IMAGES ARE PROPERTY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY. SALE, DUPLICATION OR TRANSFER OF THIS MATERIAL IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.