Monday, August 27, 2012

21 Jump Street

If you grew up in the 80s like I did, then you were familiar with the early years of Johnny Depp.  Prior to "21 Jump Street" Johnny Depp was only known for "A Nightmare on Elm Street", but in the 25 years since, he has become one of my personal favorite actors and what could be better than to revive an old police program with  Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum? 

Jonah Hill (Schmidt) and Channing Tatum (Jenko) are two rookie cops who went to high school together, though belonging to different social circles. Jenko was the popular jock while Schmidt was the unpopular nerd. When they realize each has something the other one needs, a friendship sparks and they become partners.  After a failed drug bust where Jenko forgets the Miranda rights, they're reassigned to a special division at 37 Jump Street (wait that isn't right) when their police station decides to "revive a cancelled program from the 80s" (get it?).  The people behind this lack creativity and they've run out of ideas, so what they do now is just recycle shit from the past and hope that nobody will notice.  They're sent to a local high school undercover as students to investigate and bring down a synthetic drug ring.  The first four stages of using the synthetic drug are “Giggles”, “Tripping Balls”, “Insane Over-Confidence”, and “Holy Motherfucking Shit” (stage five is either “Asleepyness” or death). 
Channing Tatum is known more for his abs and less for his comedy; however he performs well against Jonah Hill.  Their performances really looked like believable best friends that had worked together a dozen times before.  The two actors have great chemistry together building this buddy film up from rather low expectations.  Their characters develop exactly as cliché as you would expect them to.  Jenko was the popular jock that wore his backpack over one shoulder, but now finds himself with the AP Chemestry kids.  Schmidt realizes that he is suddenly the popular kid and akwerdly allows himself to be attracted to the emotional challenged high school sweet heart Molly (Brie Larson).  The shocking change to two straps isn't the only generational difference that Schmidt and Jenko experience.  They realize that kids are weird these days, with clicks that they hadn't even heard of before and realizing that nobody calls on a phone anymore, but instead kids text (guess what so do adults). 

Having Officer Penhall (Peter DeLuise) and Hanson (Johnny Depp) as deep undercover DEA agents was a perfectly corny way to pay homage to the 80s and wrap up the story for a new generation.  The guest appearances don't stop with these two as holly Robinson Peete reprises her role as Officer Hoffs.  The role call of cameos runs deep with Ellie Kemper as a horny teacher, Rob Riggle as the annoying gym teacher, Chris Parnel as an overly excited drama teacher, Jake Johnson as the school Principal, Nick Offerman as a Police Chief, and Ice Cube as a bad-ass Police Captain with respect for Korean Jesus. 

I will admit that I thought the idea of this film was terrible.  But despite the title this film is anything but an adaptation. While the TV show was primarily a drama, the film is essentially a satire of 80s nostalgia and teen and cop movies.  Sure there are holes in the script, but who cares.  During the chase scene you are just like Jenko and Schmidt thinking that there really should be more explosions.  Just enjoy this 3 Quack film for what it is supposed to be and respect Korean Jesus.  By no means was it necessary to see this in the theater, in fact this film is best on DVD at home with a couple beers so you can laugh out loud and enjoy the deleted scenes.  It will be interesting to see what Schmidt and Jenko can get into during college.

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