Sunday, July 1, 2012

Paragraph Movie Reviews: 21 Jump Street

If you don't have plans to see this movie, you can check the spoilers here and then come back.

The 2012 version of 21 Jump Street is a very self-aware movie that likes to poke fun at itself, its source material and genre conventions in general; in some spots, it's a little much (Nick Offerman's take down of Hollywood's tendency to remake old franchises is the perfect example as its way too on the nose and a tad too long), but 85% of the time it doesn't get in the way of a very fun movie (and the payoff for all the jokes about the lack of explosions is more than worth it). The surprise for me (one of them anyway) was that Jonah Hill and Michael Bacall's script wasn't just funny and full of R-rated humor (there was more than enough, though I found it oddly refreshing that the focus seemed to be more on cursing and violence than sex jokes; not sure what that says about me), it was clever in the way it tackled how youth culture has changed and the kids who would have been considered weird 10 years ago are now the in crowd; it was an effective way to keep things interesting and make more three-dimensional and sympathetic characters than you might expect from the hype or trailers. The other pleasant surprise (though not so much if you read any reviews or saw him on SNL) is how funny Channing Tatum is, fully willing to send up his good looks and perceived lack of intelligence for laughs, knowing how to milk raunchy lines or physical cues, and making his ex-jock bonehead a lovable protagonist who you both root for and feel bad for as he navigates a high school experience where he's now the outcast. Hill delivers a pretty typical Jonah Hill performance, but that's not a bad thing, and he's got great chemistry with Tatum (they clearly had fun making this movie and it shows). The movie has a murderer's row of a supporting cast, from Brie Larson and Dave Franco holding down the youth quotient, Ice Cube playing himself (not really, but more or less) as the guys' captain down at Jump Street, Jake Johnson and an unhinged Ellie Kemper along with Chris Parnell getting big laughs from small faculty parts, then Rob Riggle owning every second he's onscreen as the weirdo gym teacher (he seriously steals the show more than once). The cameos from Holly Robinson Peete, Peter DeLuise and of course Johnny Depp are clever--and there's that word again; 21 Jump Street is fun, funny, and much smarter than I would have imagined.


Andrew Brown said...

Wow I normally don't like Jonah Hill at all, so i was amazed at how much i liked this movie. He wrote it? amazing. Of course, what made that movie was the chemistry between Tatum and Hill. After this i think i'll watch anything they star in together

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your review on 21 Jump Street; I just ordered it on Blockbuster @Home so I should be getting it in the mail soon. I heard it's funny from a lot of my co-workers at Dish. It looks funny from the trailer and I just went to see Channing Tatum in Magic Mike and it was great!