REVIEW: 21 Jump Street

The best comedy since The Hangover.   Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the co-producers and writers of many How I Met Your Mother episodes have made a surprisingly good comedy […]

The best comedy since The Hangover.

Cycling is serious business


Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the co-producers and writers of many How I Met Your Mother episodes have made a surprisingly good comedy and clearly know their audience. The film may look like a stupid concept, but it is carried out expertly. 21 Jump Street is about the exploits of two high school rivals: pathetic nerd Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and the cruel, stupid jock Jenko (Channing Tatum.) They graduate in 2005 and seven years later become friends in Metro City Police Academy. They are assigned to an undercover detail run by none other than Ice Cube (who is excellent) to “infiltrate the dealers and find the suppliers” of a synthetic drug ring which has broken out in a local high school. “It’s killing white kids, so people care.”

He's alright looking but he's no Jonah Hill

The movie is a reboot of a crime drama running from 1987-91 on US TV which launched the career of a certain Johnny Depp who himself makes a welcome cameo appearance. The film could easily be mistaken for a Judd Apatow production (the man who brought us; Anchorman, Knocked Up, Superbad and Pineapple Express and many more) as it makes use of the ‘Age of Apatow’ recipe of raunchiness, drugs, pop culture parody (and Jonah Hill.)

Early on their supervisor says, “The police (Hollywood) have run out of new ideas. All they can do is recycle crap from the ’80s and hope nobody notices” a reference to the current state of cinema (including this film) where every other movie seems to be a remake. There are jokes made about how absurd the situations are; such as the running gag on the absurdity of Jenko and Schmidt’s attempts to pass themselves off as brothers let alone as teenagers (Tatum is 31!) At one point Jenko complains about how high school has changed since he graduated and that jocks are no longer the coolest kids in school, the eco-loving drama kids are, he rightly blames this on the rise of the insufferable Glee.

The most surprising aspect of this film was the discovery that Channing Tatum is capable of playing a character that doesn’t brood constantly. This role has given him the chance to demonstrate his tremendous ability to deadpan. The movies pacing is a thing of beauty, there is not a dry patch throughout and it really is a laugh a minute. There is a love story throughout the movie of course, but aside from the dubious romance between the 25 year old Schmidt and an underage schoolgirl, the real attraction is between Hill and Tatum. The movie is a essentially a bromance story, Hill and Tatum bounce off each other so well that I expect this won’t be the last time they’ll be co-stars.