Chad's 21 Jump Street Review
Unique style of comedy
DVD features worth the time
Drags on a bit with a static feel and predictable formula
Quickly decides its direction and whether or not you'll like it
Back in high school there were the popular kids, and the unpopular kids. The stereotypical popular kid was too cool to care about grades as he was busy focused on having a good time, while the unpopular kids were used to acing tests because they didn't spend their time socializing. Each group had their own problems, but the line between the two was very clear. After high school, however, the line blurs a bit when members of both groups are trying to make it in the world. Meet Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum). A nerd and a socialite that reunite seven years out of high school when they attempt to join the local police force. Realizing that they can use their strengths to help each other get out of the academy, they begin working together and a friendship is formed between two that were polar opposites back in high school.
21 Jump Street opens up with younger versions of the two stars gearing up for prom. Their identities are quickly established before it is revealed neither of them will be attending the event, Schmidt because he's too nerdy to have a date, and Jenko because his grades are too low. Fast forward nearly a decade later and we have the duo as a pair of cops, fresh out of the academy. They're stuck on bike detail at a local park, however, obviously not the high octane, adrenaline pumping action they were hoping for in their job. Seeing a few local bikers lighting up a joint, they ride over to investigate it a little. They find a stash of hard drugs, and a bit of a chase scene occurs. Channing Tatum's character has no problem with a foot pursuit of his suspect, while Jonah Hill's slowly hops on his bike, and timidly attempts to apprehend his suspect. The chase doesn't last too long, with Schmidt's perpetrator barreling over him because he's too gun shy to assert his authority. Meanwhile, Jenko tackles his man and proceeds to humiliate him publicly with a number of pelvic thrusts while Schmidt stumbles over and joins in with a bit of tea-bagging. They forget to do one thing though while making the arrest: read him his Miranda Rights. Jenko tried, but memorizing things isn't among the skills a popular kid would have, and so after getting past what you'll hear on a tv show, he continues with his own version.
Back at the headquarters, their police chief can't fathom how they forgot to do the one thing they're supposed to do, and transfers them to a special division of undercover agents, with Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) at the helm, known as 21 Jump Street. There, they receive their new assignment. A new drug is circulating at a local school, and they need to stop it from spreading into other schools. They're tasked with infiltrating the dealers, and finding the suppliers, going undercover as brothers. Ready to return to his old stomping grounds, Jenko is excited, while Schmidt is a bit hesitant because high school wasn't so fun the first time around for him. Still, they press on, and quickly realize that high school has changed since they graduated. A lot.
With the setting in place, and pretty much all that I just summarized was ran through pretty quickly in the film anyway to set the foundation, you will decide whether or not you'll enjoy the film. The type of comedy that 21 Jump Street is can be found in nearly every scene throughout, where it isn't something that's going to have you fall out of your chair, but it still won't disappoint. A fair amount of sarcasm, the typical brand that we have come to expect out of Jonah Hill's roles, with Channing Tatum keeping up surprisingly well. If you've seen other Hill flicks like The Sitter, then it isn't hard to realize that the formula is pretty much the same. A bit of action, a ton of short, punctuated jokes and sarcastic remarks, all with a nice coating of real story and character development. Not so much a laugh out loud comedy, but a more relaxed film with enough drama and scenes that connect with the audience to put a smile on your face.
A pretty recognizable cast is involved, with Jonah Hill already being a veteran in this type of movie, and Tatum showing his versatility a bit, combining his athleticism and good looks with a similar comedic style that we know Hill for. Dave Franco got a much bigger role than he was used to by playing the main popular guy, Eric Molson, and he did well. After having small parts in a few big movies it felt as though he was due, and I hope he becomes a more recognizable actor as the part he played here was very different than what he has in the past. Brie Larson jumped on board to play the main female role, and played it nicely. Ice Cube is always there for a good laugh and Rob Riggle never fails to deliver. There is a cameo later on in the film that I personally enjoyed, but I won't spoil it for those who decide to see it. The casting was done rather well, with a mix of established actors and some newbies, and they all did well.
The guys behind the scenes have pretty impressive resumes, including Jonah Hill being there for the story and Michael Bacall being involved in both story and screenplay. Bacall, more famous for his work on the screen, had already familiarized himself with Brie Larson with his back end work on Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Similarly, the casting director gave Dave Franco and Jonah Hill another chance to work together after they were both involved in Superbad. The main directors only have one big title to their name, the animated feature Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs from a few years ago, but I enjoyed what they were able to do here in a live-action comedy. Looking forward to what direction they will be taking in their next flick.
The DVD of 21 Jump Street offers a couple of languages to watch it in, as well as a nice DVD commentary with the two main stars, and the directors. The commentary actually isn't that bad, with a lot of laughs involved and more than just a boring explanation of the movie or a completely unrelated discussion between the gang. If you pick up the DVD, after you watch the movie, be sure to watch the commentary. It really is that funny to kick back and laugh with. Aside from that there are four deleted scenes, one of which is more or less fifteen seconds or so that were taken out of a scene that did make the final cut. The final deleted scene should have made the movie, in my opinion. It was a bit of a change of pace and I'm not positive where it would fit in best, which was probably why it was removed, but I felt it raised a couple of good points that you couldn't help but smile at. It covered the issue of how even though Schmidt and Jenko are mid-twenties, the characters they're playing are still in high school, and in order to embrace that role they should be having sex with other high school girls. It was good for a laugh, definitely. A "Back to School" option is the final special feature, that shows a behind the scenes look of how things were made and what the actors and directors opinions and mindsets were about various parts of the movie. Helped sort of wrap up things when I watched it after the movie, and I enjoyed it.
21 Jump Street isn't the traditional comedy that will keep you laughing. The jokes are pretty short, but in abundance, and rarely unspoken, occasionally relying the situational irony to deliver the comedy. You will quickly decide in the first fifteen minutes or so if you'll want to keep watching, or just turn it off, because there isn't much evolution comedy wise as the film goes on. The story moves pretty well, and the development of the relationships on screen actually are pretty satisfying. If you pick it up on DVD, be sure to watch at least a bit of the DVD commentary. It adds a new layer of comedy to the film, and is definitely worth giving a look. Aside from that, I'd recommend the movie. It is an interesting style of comedy that Jonah Hill is becoming well known for, and if you like him as an actor, 21 Jump Street will be a nice experience for you.