Two rookie cops are transferred to a revived undercover unit, working out of 21 Jump Street, after an embarrassing drug bust leaves them looking like fools. Their new mission is to infiltrate a local High School and find the dealers and suppliers of a new drug before it goes mainstream.
Jonah Hill's been talking about 21 JUMP STREET for awhile now, and I'll be honest, I had no idea what the lowdown on this "once a TV series now a movie" concoction was, nor did I get the hype/hate it was generating. Like most films based on TV shows, this was going to have a different feel, look and tone, making it completely different from the show. Obviously, fans of the TV series weren't feeling the love but Hill didn't let that affect his growing enthusiasm. I'm a JH fan (and why not, those are my initials too), and thought I dug THE SITTER, beyond a handful of key moments, it wasn't all that great and I can't see myself watching it more than twice. Hill works better when he's bouncing off someone who can keep up with him (case in point, I'm looking forward to NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH), and much to my surprise Channing Tatum did just that and then some.
Tatum is the other side of this funny coin and most people (myself included) worried that he wouldn't hold his own on the comedy front. Thankfully we were wrong. Tatum is hilarious and steals the show here with most of the funniest scenes and lines. I know right, who'd have thought, but it's true (ironic considering Tatum passed on this role twice before Hill finally convinced him to do it). The storyline here is generic, but most cop flicks are. It's not an issue though as the chemistry between Hill and Tatum is golden. One of my co-workers interviewed the boys (which you can watch here: http://www.joblo.com/movie-news/interview-21-jump-stars-jonah-hill-and-channing-tatum) where Tatum confesses to this being the most fun he's ever had on film simply because his and Hill's relationship was the closest thing to having a real brother. These guys are an awesome team, and are currently writing up a sequel (the movie ends with a great sequel possibility). The boys are doing great with revenue and reviews right now, so here's hoping the sequel gets green lit.
One of the best things about this film is it doesn't take itself too seriously. The boys are constantly making fun of Hollywood's lack of creativity, action flicks, cop movies, clichés and even themselves. There's even a cool couple of cameos that pay homage to the show (they won't mean much to you if you're new to all this, but at least they're fun). Ice Cube makes a great comedic comeback here as well, an R rated comeback at that, which makes me happy considering the rumours of him and Chris Tucker teaming up for another FRIDAY. I won't hold my breath on that one, but it's good to see the dude's balls and spine are still intact, which is more than I can say for some sellout comedians (cough, cough, Eddie Murphy).
21 JUMP STREET is a much needed dose of hilarity at a time when comedies are feeling a little played out. Many R rated comedies lean heavily upon language, shock value and nudity to fill seats these days but as we saw with last year's craptacular HANGOVER 2, it's not easy to fool us twice. There's lots of language, but to be fair, these guys are put back in High School so it fits. This was probably the funniest "high" scene since BAD BOYS 2, with Hill and Tatum tripping balls on the new designer drug they're sent to sniff out. The way this drug is explained via three or four phases will have you in stitches, especially when the boys are on it (Tatum's "Fuck Science" bit is one of the funnies things I've ever seen). Say what you will about Hollywood grasping at straws with these TV show/film remakes, but every so often one just works. This is that one, no doubt due to being co-written Jonah Hill, but still, it works and is every bit the crowd pleaser these guys were hoping it would be. Amen to that.