What can I say about 21 JUMP STREET that hasn’t already been said?
From the writer of Project X and the directors of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, it seems like it had STEAMING PILE OF SHIT written all over it. This is a continuing trend with Sony, making these against-type casting/directing/style rehashes of old TV series no one gives a shit about anymore (the others being The Green Hornet and Bewitched, but no one saw the latter so let’s not mention that shit ever again).
I’m telling you, this thing surprised me. Honest to Bale, IT’S A HELL OF A LOT OF FUN.
The plot is fairly basic, two opposites in high school become buddies at the police academy and vow to be bad ass mofo cops when they get out. Turns out they aren’t as bad ass as they thought, nor are they any good at being cops. Since they look like children, get sent to Jump Street, where they are to infiltrate a high school drug ring (run by Baby Franco) from the inside out.
JONAH HILL, KILLIN' IT IN LIFE!
I mean, I was taken aback when I originally saw ‘Cloudy’. I heard they were turning the classic book I loved as a wee lass into some silly kids movie and said FUCK IT. But when I finally checked it out, WOW. What a zany, wondrous, heartfelt adventure flick. 21 Jump Street is just shy of that greatness. Mainly because the insane action in ‘Cloudy’ was never gonna be met in live action (I mean a tornado of food?!!!!! I’m a 400 pound Filipino woman, HOW COULD I NOT FUCKING LOVE THAT?!).
Back to the Johnny Depp TV show remake at hand, I’ve seen this film twice now and I loved it both times! I was amazed that Lord and Miller were able to bring their zany sensibilities from ‘Cloudy’ over into the live-action world, all while maintaining the charm that made that movie special. Really, I think it works because of the contributions of everyone involved. Lord/Miller’s solid direction mixed with Jonah Hill and Michael Becall’s screenplay and topped off with Hill and Tatum’s chemistry. Everything works. Maybe that made it hit even more, the fact that NONE OF THIS SHOULD WORK, yet surprisingly…ALL OF IT DOES.
And everyone seems to be having a good time doing it. Channing Tatum is really game, he’s having blast and you feel that come through. The dude has had several box office hits, most of which opened in first place, but he’s about to get some mad love when this John-Carter-Smasher opens. I’ve never had a problem with him, and I think this is the perfect sort of movie to show off what he’s capable of.
Jonah Hill is….Jonah Hill. If you’ve liked him in other stuff, he’s as good if not better here. It’s funny, because he’s not your typical Hollywood star, and the movie plays with the role reversal of Chat and Hill once they are undercover in high school. The odd thing about him I noticed in this is his walk. Probably because of the surgery, but he looked like he was in pain most of the time. I don’t know why….but I like the fuck, limp and all. He’s rarely let me down. I just want him to fucking admit that he’s Harvey Weinstein’s love child.
The last subject I’d like to talk about before ending this meeting is Michael Bacall. I went back and watched all the movies he’s penned (Scott Pilgrim, Bookies, Manic…have not seen Project X), in hopes of finding some nugget of a through-line to talk about….sadly, I didn’t. The guy seems to have a thing for bromances and ‘the one that’s hard to get’. Bookies and Manic both feature dudes coming together to be assholes while one of them falls in love with a girl slightly out of his reach and Scott Pilgrim didn’t seem to be able to handle the joke all the way through. 21 Jump Street has no such problems. It’s probably his most successful script to date.
So if you enjoyed Green Hornet, this is the better film. That had better action, but the characters here are more relatable. The action in 21 is more of a fun and crazy type. Also, if you liked Superbad, in some ways this plays like a spin-off/sequel. As for the TV show….you can hang out with all the Green Hornet TV fans and bitch about how these remakes are ruining the great legacy of the series. Me, I’m with Johnny Depp…and I’m down with this film.
Dickblood's sister, Mary Helen, at the premiere of 21 Jump Street