Movie Review: 21 Jump Street (2012)

Patrick Hasburgh and Stephen J. Cannell’s television drama “21 Jump Street” was notable for a couple of reasons. First, it aired on the Fox Network for 103 episodes, becoming an early hit for the fledgling broadcasting company. Secondly, it sparked Johnny Depp’s acting career. Now, a cinematical adaptation of the same name has been helmed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who’ve worked on “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” together. Strangely enough, it’s been rated R and features a cameo by Depp, who vents his frustrations via cartoony violence.

21 Jump Street follows police force partners, the meat-headed Jenko (Channing Tatum) and smarty-pants Schmidt (Jonah Hill). While they expected nonstop thrills, the two are put on the park duty. After a shabby arrest (during which they forget to read the Miranda Rights), their higher up (played by Nick Offerman) sentences the duo to an undercover unit that has the baby-faced cops infiltrating high schools to stop the flow of drugs. Operating in an old Korean church and led by Capt. Dickson (Ice Cube), their first assignment is stopping the flow of a new narcotic called HFS. Jenko tries to utilize his past experience as the prom king, whilst Schmidt tries to stay true to his teenage awkwardness. Yet times have changed, and with the reversal of roles, they must go out of their element to bust the suppliers.

In a bout of self-parody, screenwriter Michael Bacall crafts a hilarious remake. Part of the movie’s likability comes from not taking itself too seriously. With constant references to Hollywood rehashing old ideas and tight interplay, the physical gags and corny stereotypes are kept at a bare minimum. The oft-used pop-culture jabs, however, are stale (i.e., “You Justin Bieber lookin’ motherfuckas…”). Nonetheless, it’s always nice when the creator of the original television series decides to produce.

The idea of the poles inverting is genius. If “The Vow” proved anything, it’s that Tatum is a gym-junkie. On the other hand, films like “Superbad” have displayed Hill’s skill at playing awkward characters. It would’ve been too easy to cast them as the jock and nerd respectively and doing it conversely worked out. Tatum, oddly enough, has great comedic timing, and, these days, it’s not hard to envision the latter as a cool kid (as long as he had alcohol to spare). These performers work well together and are supported by fantastic actors like Rob Riggle, who recites his lines with enough energy to make his stock character, a clueless gym teacher, feel fresh. The potty-mouthed Ice Cube is another worthy addition.

But direction’s a bit flat. The locations are nothing special and Lord and Miller’s depiction of a drug high is less than original. There isn’t a definitive style and, whilst the movie relies largely on its performers and screenplay, I would’ve liked more of a visual panache. Nevertheless, although shining a light on today’s youth’s lack of morals, 21 Jump Street plays out like a modern high school party: Unpredictable, loud, raunchy fun.

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
4 Star Rating: Good


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'Movie Review: 21 Jump Street (2012)' have 12 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 12, 2012 @ 11:17 am Jeremy

    Johnny Depp with a cameo? I thought he abhorred the show..

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 12, 2012 @ 12:30 pm Travis

    Trailers make this look so unappealing. Figure I may as well watch the television show instead….

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 12, 2012 @ 2:05 pm Pete

    Its good to see Channing Tatum easing up a bit. Hopefully Jonah Hill’s goofball humor rubbed off on him permanently.

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 12, 2012 @ 4:29 pm Richie Rich

    Happy to read the movie isn’t a total joke, but it still makes me wonder what producers see when they fund these crappey tv shows into movies.

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 12, 2012 @ 10:50 pm Stan

    I like Jonah Hill. Good to hear his Superbad/Moneyball success continues..

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 13, 2012 @ 2:51 am Yash

    It’s a slow weekend at the cinema, based on your review jump st is the only movie that is mildly interesting/

  7. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 13, 2012 @ 9:50 am Matt Silven

    21 Jump Street was my show when I was a kid! Hoping when I see it this weekend it will be bring back some high school memories! :D

  8. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 14, 2012 @ 4:58 pm Squigglz

    Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill is hilarious!!

  9. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 15, 2012 @ 9:44 am Keith 12

    I think everyone will be surprised at how great Tatum is in this. He wipes away the etched in image of him being nothing but a mopey dumb jock.

  10. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 15, 2012 @ 6:06 pm Jeffrey Powter

    A definite add to your funniest high school comedies top 10.

  11. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 16, 2012 @ 8:58 pm Rubi

    Johnny Depp lending his face to this movie made it all the better. Good review.

  12. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 19, 2012 @ 5:30 pm BarWalker

    I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard as when I did watching the stoned scene in the hallway. Comedy gold right there!

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