21 Jump Street is the latest comedy inspired by past material. It’s a film that sounds like it doesn’t need to be made, yet it somehow works wonders. Channing Tatum finally delivers that performance we’ve all been waiting for and Jonah Hill helps make the film even better with his usual humor. It’s a mixture of all of the right elements to make a near-perfect film. Something that’s rare, especially in its genre. Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller transition well into the R-rated comedy, bringing their crazy antics from their previous film, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and making it work extremely well.
Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) are two underachieving cops. They were total opposites in high school, but realized each other’s strengths and weaknesses in police training. They’ve decided to team up from that point on, which has landed them the nice cozy job of park duty. They make rounds on their bicycles, waiting for that one chance of arrest. It comes, and it comes quickly, so quickly that they manage to mess everything up, including the simple step of reading the suspect his Miranda Rights.
This little stint lands them in a special unit over on 21 Jump Street. They’re to blend into a high school, posing as students. Their mission, assigned by the hot-tempered Capt. Dickson (Ice Cube), is to find out who is dealing and supplying this new deadly drug that is making its way around the school. They’re under no circumstances allowed to try the drug, break their cover or supply the teens with alcohol. The rules and objectives are made very clear and firm by Dickson, yet Jenko and Schmidt manage to still mess it up.
21 Jump Street is outrageously funny. It’s on a whole new level of comedy. I haven’t laughed so hard since MacGruber. I honestly can’t recall the last time I consistently laughed for long periods at a time. It’s really that funny. Most of the laughter comes from the camaraderie between Jenko and Schmidt. The two of them together guarantees at least 20 minutes of non-stop laughter at a time. The laughs still come in heavy doses when they’re separated for brief moments in the film, thanks to the very well-rounded supporting cast.
Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill firmly carry the film. They’re ability to bounce jokes off of each other left and right is impressive. Their comedic duo is special and it makes me actually want to see a sequel or two. Tatum finally embraces the stereotype that everyone has been applying to him. He’s the idiot jock that all the ladies love and all the guys hate. He was a douche in high school, but now he’s learned that it helps to have a smart friend. His best moments come from how dumb he actually is, yet his character progresses over the film just as much as he has as an actor over the past few years.
Jonah Hill doesn’t seem as funny as Tatum and that’s only because he’s been doing comedy and doing it well for some time now. That doesn’t mean he’s less as funny, it just means that you’re used to his humor and it’s still working. He looks kind of odd with all of the weight loss, but that doesn’t affect his ability to land a joke.
The supporting cast includes Dave Franco (James Franco‘s little brother), Ellie Kemper (of Bridesmaids), Ice Cube (needs no introduction), Rob Riggle (of Step Brothers and The Other Guys) and a few other actors who I choose not to name. Everyone really helps sculpt this film into an effective comedy. Dave Franco plays a kind of interesting character. He’s both the bad guy drug dealer and an idiot high schooler that’s just looking for a good time. He’s never really made out to be an enemy, but he’s not exactly a good friend.
Ellie Kemper, Rob Riggle and Ice Cube have more minor roles, but when they’re on screen with either Tatum or Hill, you’ll be having a hard time keeping the laughs in. Each one brings their own unique blend of comedy, from Riggle’s weird man obsession with Tatum to Ice Cube‘s need to scream real loud and constantly be pissed at everyone. It’s funny supporting roles like this that help add to the overall film.
Let’s not forget about directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller. They’ve recently done Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, an insanely creative animated film that I enjoyed very much. They bring that same batch of insane creativity to 21 Jump Street. There are a lot of weird and silly ideas that they toss around in the film and every single one of them works. I wouldn’t classify this as something like MacGruber, which is dark, clever and to some considered toilet humor, but really funny toilet humor at that. 21 Jump Street is just as random and off-the-walls as MacGruber, but it’s not going to have people calling it stupid or dumb. If people do somehow think it’s not funny in any way then I’d seriously question their taste in comedy.
I can’t really express how great 21 Jump Street really is. It’s that rare comedy that sounds kind of dumb and unnecessary on paper, but turns out to be one of the funniest things in years. It’s that rare perfect creation between actors, filmmakers and comedic material that if done with anyone else or at any other time it wouldn’t have worked. I can’t imagine the film in the hands of other, more known comedy directors and I can’t imagine the film not starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. It’s something that I want to see a sequel for so badly, but at the same time I don’t think there’s any way they’ll be able to capture the magic again. In short, 21 Jump Street is a non-stop train of laughter and you just have to see it.
21 Jump Street – 9/10