Wednesday 21 March 2012

Review: 21 Jump Street

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

21 Jump Street poster

21 Jump Street
109 mins / Dir. Phil Lord / Chris Miller

As a couple of well-meaning but completely inept rookie cops, Jenko and Schmidt find themselves transferred to an undercover operation which infiltrates criminal gangs in the city's high schools. As a jock and a nerd, respectively, they should have no problem blending in and tracking the shipments of the latest drug-craze. After all, how much can school change in seven years..?

The Good: 21 Jump Street is very funny, in a surprisingly charming way. Sure, there's some effing-and-jeffing to pump it up to a Cert.15, and there are traces of gross-out-comedy sprinkled over the top, but at its heart it's a likeable buddy-cop action-comedy. There are no surprises here, but it's not really the movie where you're expecting or wanting them.
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are on good comedic form, and while there's the obligatory emotional buildup in the third act, it doesn't threaten to derail the movie.

As I have almost no frame of reference for the TV series (not my thing, then or now), the original setup is framed by a beautifully tongue-in-cheek performance from Ice Cube, and further references are similarly knowing, without being flat-out self indulgent. The bottom line is, the movie could have been made quite comfortably on its own without having an existing franchise bolted on. But rather than have its history weight it down, 21 Jump Street wears it as a (very silly) badge of honour, and is all the better for it.

Oh, and I don't want to be that guy, but when The Reveal™ goes down, I'd been waiting for it since the first appearance of those characters earlier. While it wasn't exactly telegraphed, you know there's something building there. But again, it was done in such a way that made me smile, rather than facepalm, so that's all good.

The Bad: I know it's alluded to in the movie itself (and is, indeed, the very point), but this will pretty much be the last time that Jonah Hill will get away with playing a young character. There are scenes in here where Hill actually manages to look older than he actually is, never mind how old he's supposed to look.

The Ugly: Erm, nothing to report.

Worth leaving the house for? You won't lose too much by watching it on DVD, but if you have the means and the opportunity, this one's worth watching on a massive screen.


I found it solidly entertaining. Your mileage may vary, but if you don't laugh at all through this film, you probably have no soul.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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