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REVIEW: 21 JUMP STREET

Re-blogged from my post in Bristol’s Inter:Mission…

This month has been pretty slim pickings, with the exception of John Carter, in regards to what’s showing at the cinemas right now. There’s always that lull which occurs 1 month on either side of the Oscars, but then I remember that Spring, which has become the season for comedy, is around the corner. One of the big hitters is 21 Jump Street, a loosely based film remake of the classic 80′s TV show that helped launch the career of Johnny Depp.

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum (who I will, from now on, refer to as C-Tates) play two budding cops straight out of police academy, gunning for the chance to take down the bad guys.

Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are more than ready to leave their adolescent problems behind them. Joining the police force and the secret Jump Street unit, they use their youthful appearances to go undercover in a local high school. As they trade in their guns and badges for backpacks, Schmidt and Jenko risk their lives to investigate a violent and dangerous drug ring. But they find that high school is nothing like they left it just a few years earlier [Empire Cinemas]

I have to be honest and up front, before seeing this film, I never really thought much of C-Tate’s acting ability, nor his comedic potential. He just seemed like another six-pack douche bag destined for B-movie status, a flash in the pan, never to be seen again. I had a bad feeling that 21 Jump Street would end up relying on Hill to provide the comedy while C-Tates stood in the background posing. I was pleasantly surprised to find that he could deliver a superb comedic performance, while making us believe the ‘buddy cop’ partnership, between himself and Hill. Yes, he isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, nor is he the next Daniel Day-Lewis, but boy will he make you laugh – sometimes at his own expense.

C-Tates has come a long way to Hollywood – his early career involved a stint as a male stripper, under the name ‘Chan Crawford‘, where he was ‘discovered’ by a casting agent, in Florida. Since then he’s worked his way up the greasy pole, appearing in a multitude of forgettable action flicks, the dance-themed Step Up series, and more recently, romantic dramas like The Vow and Dear John. Jonah Hill has been flexing his dramatic muscles recently, for his Oscar nominated role in Moneyball, so it’s good to see him back in comedy where he shines. This time he is also contributing behind the scenes with writing partner Michael Bacall on 21 Jump Street’s screenplay.

C-Tates plays the sidekick-meathead jock, which at first doesn’t seem like much of a stretch, to Jonah Hill’s smart and awkward cop. The two form a great partnership on screen, with neither overshadowing the other, complimenting each others strengths. One provides the brain and the other braun.  Hill’s character starts high school as a nerd, but seven years later he manages to fit in with the it-crowd, while C-Tates struggles to fathom the most basic dynamics of popularity. Both characters get to relive their high school lives in each other’s shoes, bringing them closer and providing some great opportunities for laughs.

The writing is superb and fresh, with fully formed characters that you can actually relate to. Even Hill’s love interest Molly, played by Brie Larson, is well written – reflecting a character that is not pulled down by the stereotypical dumb blonde role, usually cast in bromantic comedies, of the Appatow variety, but rather a beautiful intelligent theater geek. Ice Cube gets the chance to remind everyone that he’s ‘Straigh Outta Compton’ by shaking off his ‘Mr Nice Guy’ image that he’s managed to acquire in family-friendly films of late. James Franco’s little brother, Dave, proves he’s every bit as good as his big bro, playing the eco-friendly, care free, drug dealer of the high school.

The film is currently performing so well at the box office that Columbia Pictures has green-lit a second film, making back its $42 million budget within its opening weekend. Putting the loss of John Carter’s $250 million budget into perspective. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and highly recommend it. I would also say it’s easily the funniest film of the last 5 years.

Grade: B

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Trackbacks

  1. […] 2012 has not been a great year for comedy. Frankly neither has the last 4 years. Jump Street stood out this year by showing us that Tatumn was more than just “the whigger on the block”, but also flex his comic muscles and break your funny boners. Filmdrunk’s Ashley Burns and Vince Mancini have come up with the moniker for Tatum that fit his earlier Step Up days, “C-Tates”. I for one salute that and will from now on refer to him as such. [FULL REVIEW] […]

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