While 21 Jump Street is based on the popular ’80s TV series it isn’t a straight remake – rather it presents a modern day take on the concept of police officers infiltrating crime rings by going undercover within places like high schools. The film takes a much more comedic angle, while mixing some action in, and it all really works.
Two inept cops – played by Jonah Hill (who also co-wrote the script) and Channing Tatum – get reassigned to the 21 Jump Street program and are tasked with finding and bringing down the supplier of a new synthetic drug.
While they have become friends on the force in the past Jenko (Tatum) was the popular kid in high school while Schmidt (Hill) was the one who got picked on. Amusingly what represented “popularity” years before has changed and that throws a wrench into their expectations.
Though their friendship is never completely established or entirely credible (maybe the only gripe I would have but ultimately an unnecessary one) there is a sense that the two genuinely like each other. How they play off one another, as they go through various experiences and challenges throughout the film, is flat out fun to watch. Basing their investigation on a fictional drug makes it especially hilarious as the characters and audience go along for the ride together learning about its effects and influence on events.
Never having considered myself a fan of Channing Tatum he impressed with some great comedic timing – the movie was so good that it actually made me really like him. Meanwhile Jonah Hill brought exactly what one would expect out of him, Brie Larson was endearing as a love interest, and Ice Cube and Rob Riggle flat out stole some scenes. There are also some big payoffs in the way of cameos.
21 Jump Street did a fantastic job of playing against expectations and cliches while providing some truly hilarious moments throughout. It’s the funniest film I’ve seen since The Hangover – not only did it deliver all the laughs but it was more clever and simply a more complete movie. There isn’t much more anyone could ask for out of 21 Jump Street and hopefully it’s just the start of a franchise that would actually be deserving of one.
21 Jump Street is rated R and releases on March 16.