Bottom Line: 21 Jump Street is…hilarious.
Directed by: Chris Miller, Phil Lord
Starring: Brie Larson, Channing Tatum, Chris Parnell, Dave Franco, Dax Flame, DeRay Davis, Ellie Kemper, Ice Cube, Jonah Hill, Rob Riggle
I’m not familiar with the TV series the film is based on, but if I had to take one guess, I’d say it’s pretty unfaithful. Whereas that medium that first aired 25 years ago was a serious crime drama, this 2012 adaptation is an upbeat action comedy. The good news is, had I not been informed early on that the original work was a drama, I would have still never guessed. 21 JUMP STREET is a massively goofy laughfest, brushed with not the slightest hint of straightforward drama.
21 JUMP STREET is quite comparable to THE NAKED GUN. The only major difference is that Leslie Nielsen’s character is broken down into two inept cops, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum), and the story becomes more of a buddy comedy. After graduating from the police academy as partners, the two are assigned to go back to a high school in order to actually put an end to a drug ring, while simultaneously acting as students.
Aside from the familiar story it relies on, the script for 21 JUMP STREET is quite fun. I’m usually not one to appreciate vulgar and obscene humor. Usually it’s placed in a pointless and offensive context and left without any relation to the plot. The writers of JUMP overthrew my expectations. Rather than serving as an attempt to place as much sex-, race-, and drug-related humor on the screen as possible, the film employs such vulgar quips in the name of staying faithful to the plot. It really makes for a highly entertaining and hysterical picture.
Despite it being surprisingly enjoyable, there are a few noticeable missteps taken by 21 JUMP STREET. The story is scripted and paced perfectly–once the first few introductory scenes are over–and the cinematography is just where it needs to be, but the music often confuses. Listening to the music out of the film’s context, it sounds like the score to an alone action movie, not a hybrid action comedy. The two lead characters, though well acted by performers Tatum and Hill, are also a bit typical. I think I’m, by now, used to the typical buddy comedy, where the two leads are “The Tall One” (Tatum) and “The Large One” (Hill). Anyone who can move past those minute flaws should have fun with 21 JUMP STREET. If it doesn’t offend you, you probably aren’t human. If it doesn’t overjoy you, however, you were probably hoping for a dramatic adaptation of the show.