21 Jump Street, 2012, USA
Quite frankly, despite the good reviews this movie got, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot. But, this meant that I was very pleasantly surprised by how good it was. I was in hysterics from the first minutes of the movie.
Schmidt (Jonah Hill) was unpopular in high school and mocked relentlessly by Jenko (Channing Tatum). Years later they are reunited as they are training to be police officers. Schmidt has the book smarts that Jenko lacks, and Jenko is physically capable, which Schmidt lacks, so they help each other out and become friends. After their first arrest is botched, they are transferred to 21 Jump Street, an undercover program which sends them undercover into a high school.
I’ve never seen the TV show the film is based on, but this film is a satirical adaptation of it. It’s incredibly funny, and I’m glad they went with the satirical tone, because I don’t think a more serious tone would have worked for the film. 21 Jump Street is an R-rated comedy, and it certainly earns its R-rating. The comedy is sharp, and it’s an often-hilarious satire of contemporary youth culture and police dramas. Too often comedies don’t push the envelope enough in order to ensure a PG-13 rating, so I always appreciate a good R-rated comedy.
I’ll be the first to admit that I generally don’t care for Tatum, but I actually really liked him in the role. He’s a decent comedic actor and I think I’d appreciate him more if he moved away from the romantic dramas and stuck to comedies. He doesn’t have a whole lot of range or charisma, but he does have comedic timing.
Hill was very good, as well. Both characters grew over the course of the film, and I really appreciated how they changed thanks to their experiences returning to high school years after they originally graduated. It was funny, but it was also surprisingly touching, in a way. Jenko is likely the most complex character I’ve seen Tatum play – and certainly my favourite performance of his.
Don’t underestimate this movie the way I did. It’s a good time, and I regret not seeing it in theatres.