"If its ridiculous and over-the-top brand humor fits your tastes, with the excellent team-up and comedic performances by Hill, Tatum, and co., 21 Jump Street's brute force hilarity will keep you laughing, and laughing hard, throughout it's well paced 109 minute runtime."
Immature, foul mouthed, raunchy, lacking wit in its humor, and Channing Tatum. These are all things that describe this movie and you know what? It's one of the funniest comedies I've seen in a very long time. Seriously. I came out of this movie coughing because my lungs hurt from laughing so hard so frequently (and I don't even smoke!). It’s also worth noting that I’ve seen the same trailer for this movie MANY times and when those particular "funny scenes" you see in the trailer appear in the movie and still manage to make you laugh…I find that's usually a good indication that you're in for an enjoyable ride. This is one of those comedies. So where do I start here? Let’s begin with Channing Tatum.
Looking at Channing’s resume (Step Up 1 and 2, Fighting, The Eagle, Dear John, The Vow), to me, this appears to be an actor with limited range who's acquired roles based purely upon the marketability of his looks and, apparently, ability to dance. His characters appear to be meat-heads due to this and I, personally, haven't been able to see much redeeming value in him because, based on his movie choices, he's come off as being humorless and too stuck on being Mr. Sexy Pants for the ladies. Now fast forward to 21 Jump Street. His character is a cop named Jenko here and he plays up the stereotypes I'd listed previously in a completely self effacing way (as a dumb jock that can't get by without the smart guy) while still managing to be likeable. He gives the role his all and completely pulls it off to a great and hilarious degree. So kudos to your humor and comedic abilities, Channing. You've changed my opinion of you.
This brings us to Jonah Hill. Jonah’s comedic talents are well known due to his previous works and they shine through here yet again. He plays Schmidt, a cop with no athletic abilities and next to no social skills until he buddies-up with Jenko at the police academy. So, given both character’s strengths and weaknesses, together they make 1 great cop. Unfortunately, they are, in fact, 2 separate people and find that they need each other's help. So a bromance develops and their onscreen comedic dude-chemistry brings about some hilarious moments, especially near the end.
Another individual worth mentioning here is Ice Cube. This is a man whose career has gone from being a part of the rap group N.W.A., who creating the once controversial song “F*** Tha Police” in the late 1980's, to starring as a hard-nosed police captain in this movie…irony at its finest. Pretty much every phrase that comes out of his mouth in this movie is angry and laced with expletives...and his comedic timing and delivery is amazing. What I’m getting at here is that pretty much every actor does a great job in this film.
Though I’m sure most are aware, this movie is based off a 1980’s TV show (starring a then young Johnny Depp) of the same name and premise. However, that’s where the similarities end. Both are about cops who specialize in going undercover as young people (high school or college students) due to their youthful looks to solve crimes that others can't. However, the TV show was a drama. The movie isn’t trying to mimic any of the events of the show at all. It’s merely taking the premise and running with it for the comedic value it can create, and create it does!
Another thing worth pointing out about this movie is that there's a good amount of "ridiculous" going on, but the plot is actually smartly written. It keeps you interested in the mystery of who’s at the head of the drug ring and also the development/dynamics of the relationship between Schmidt and Jenko. It doesn’t just keep your attention for the gags. The story goes that 2 wannabe cops, who didn't get along in high school (the old nerd/jock dynamic), find that they need each others help to succeed in the force. They envision that being police officers will be an action packed gig but find quite the opposite. They end up botching their first arrest and, given their immaturity during the arrest and lack of following protocol, getting reassigned to an "old operation developed in the last 80's based out of 21 Jump Street". Operating out of an old/unassuming building (the Aroma of Christ Church to be exact) Schmidt and Jenko are assigned to infiltrate a local high school as new students and find the supplier of a new and dangerous synthetic drug that’s gaining in popularity before it gets into other schools and on the streets. They soon find the high schooler who deals the drug, and are made to use it on the spot to prove they aren’t narcs. Upon taking it and leaving the room, Schmidt and Jenko freak out, bust into nearby bathroom, and try to throw it up. I’m not going to spoil anything for you here, but their attempts to throw up the drug and what soon follows from there are some of the freaking funniest things I’ve ever seen in a movie. I was in tears.
So now you’ll be asking “what make this movie so funny?” First off, how dare you take that tone with me? And secondly, several things. As I’d stated previously: it’s immature, foul mouthed, raunchy, and isn’t witty. Asides from the not-being-witty part, it does all of these things with hilarious precision using well timed and executed sight gags and scripting (or, as it appears at time, several takes of improvisation with awesome results). All toll, I found very few jokes fell flat. The movie also pulls all of these points off without alienating the audience. The right characters are hilarious and likeable, the immaturity isn’t insulting, the swearing didn’t come off as overboard without being amusing, and the raunchy-ness isn’t overly gross or overly used (although, there is a scene near the end of the movie that's super nasty…but it’s so over-the-top that it’ll have you laughing big time).
Given all of that, it’s clear that the humor in this movie isn’t for everyone. The movie also has a few brief moments of intense violence. As a result, if any of these issues are completely off-putting to you, you’ll want to stay away from this one.
Other than also stating that the action scenes in this movie are great and manage to keep the laughs coming, that about wraps it up. As long as the style of humor fits yours, 21 Jump Street is brute force hilarity and will keep you laughing, and laughing hard, throughout. Personally, I’ll probably be seeing it again before it leaves theaters and will definitely be picking up a copy once they become available in stores.
Score = 9/10
What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!