Review: 21 Jump Street
Jonah Hill & Channing Tatum in 21 Jump Street
Film: 21 Jump Street
Director: Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum
The nerdish Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and lunk-headed, hulking Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) are no longer tormentee and tormentor. For Schmidt, gone also are the days of gym inadequacy and pre-prom rejection anxiety. Though Jenko has scores of women falling on him and sports’ laurels, he is out of place in the classroom and falls through the cracks of the educational system.
In later life, the two as failed cops, must face their demons in an undercover operation that must infiltrate a drug ring in high school. Schmidt comes to be hailed for who he is by kids who are in touch with their feelings and care about the environment. These kids, Jenko discovers, are not of Schmidt’s tribe (read geeks) and are now considered to be the cool ones. Can Schmidt and Jenko handle the popularity and obscurity that have been thrust upon them while also bringing down the mysterious?
Adapted from a television show, 21 Jump Street the film possesses the hybrid nature that typifies recent comedies. Largely pertaining to the lighter side of crime-fighting, gunplay and explosions are cushioned between various diverse elements. Apart from the law enfarcement that channels that of the bumbling cops from Hill’s breakthrough film Superbad, also witnessed is the high school movie with all its colourful tropes. The protagonists’ contrasting natures make for the odd couple/ buddy film. The tripped out psychedelic scenes and not-so-subtle marijuana advocacy borrows from the stoner movie.
The theme of adapting with newfound identities is commendable, but could have been explored with more sincerity. As their black, angry, motherf—ker-spewing captain Dickson (Ice Cube) advises, the film cleverly embraces the stereotype while also playing around with conventions like the way explosions are expected to bloom between the flying bullets and burning rubber of cars in hot pursuit. The humour is derived from such situations are more effective than the sparse occasion when you are caught off guard, laughing for all the wrong reasons, which the film chiefly banks upon.
The acting and deliveries, from our heroes and the whacky side characters, is solid and contributes to the hahas. Hill, who proved himself with Moneyball, channels his inner Woody Allen while Tatum displays more depth as usual as an outdated individual who must find meaning among those whom he spitefully scorned. The Office’s Ellie Kemper, playing Jenko’s chemistry teacher, could very well be playing herself, but that’s just perfect. And it’s good to see Rob Riggle, as the PE teacher, playing more than the taunting weirdo.
Not unbearably unfunny, the silly 21 Jump Street isn’t an ingeniously structured laugh riot but a just-about effective one.
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