Review: 21 Jump Street


I’ve been excited for this movie for a long, long time. Every time I’ve seen the trailer (see below), I laughed as hard as I did the first time. After a long, strenuous battle against the Lovecraftian elder gods, I finally managed to secure the review for this film. It was an uphill battle, but darn it, I came out on top. All that was left to do was wait.

And wait I did, ever-so-patiently. Then, last night at midnight, I nestled into my chair at the AMC theater in my town, two bananas in tow (I love potassium, son), and prepared to enjoy 21 Jump Street. Did I like it? Did it shatter my hopes and dreams? Did Channing Tatum moisten the audience’s collective panties?

Let’s find out!

21 Jump Street
Directors: Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Rating: R
Release Date: March 16th

21 Jump Street is about Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum), two guys who were in the opposite ends of the popularity spectrum in high school that find themselves becoming best buds during their time at the police academy. After a botched drug bust, they’re sent to 21 Jump Street, where their new boss (Ice Cube) tells them that they’re going to go undercover to a high school (due to their ‘youthful looks’) to find the distributor of a deadly new drug called HFS (Holy F-cking Sh-t). Cue hilarity.

First off, in addition to Hill and Tatum, the cast is absolutely, mind-rendingly amazing. As far as other main characters go, Dave Franco (James Franco’s little brother) and Brie Larson (Scott Pilgrim) play the popular kids Schmidt befriends, Dax Flame (Project X) is the lead nerd that Jenko becomes unlikely buds with, and Ice Cube (of the NWA and Are We There Yet fame) plays possibly his least emasculating role in over a decade. Then there’s the rest of the cast. Nick Offerman (Ron ‘King of Kings’ Swanson) plays their boss who tells them they’re being transferred, Ellie Kemper (Bridesmaids, The Office) plays a teacher who wants to do inappropriate things to Jenko, Jake Johnson (The New Girl) appears as the mildly-apathetic principal of the school, and Rob Riggle (Step-Brothers) is the gym coach. If you’ve ever seen Riggle in a movie, you should know what to expect from him.

A cast this awesome wouldn’t be much without a good script, and boy howdy did Michael Bacall deliver. The man co-wrote Scott Pilgrim and Project X, and there’s more of that awesome referential humor that doesn’t care if you get it, plenty of well-timed vulgarity, and terrific set-pieces in 21 Jump Street that at least I’ve come to expect. One of my favorite lines comes early on, from Nick Offerman’s character (naturally):

“You’ll be reporting to Jump Street. 37 Jump Street. …Wait, that doesn’t sound right.”

It’s silly, but with the expert deadpan delivery of not just Offerman but the whole cast, this script works wonders. You’re treated to almost two hours of meta jokes, car chases, scathing looks at high school popularity then and now, and pictures of Jonah Hill as a little kid/possible Savage brother.

This whole movie was pretty fantastic. In addition to a fantastic cast and top-notch script, the soundtrack is excellent, the editing is on-point throughout, and I really kept waiting for there to be a wasted scene. I never found one.

I try not to let myself get too excited for movies from their trailers because there’s always a big chance I could be disappointed. I let my anticipation run wild on this one, but as luck would have it, I was not disappointed. Probably my favorite thing about this movie is that it never stops with the laughter. The dramatic conflict towards the end lasts all of five minutes (Encino Man style) and then you get one of the best prom scenes/shoot-outs in cinematic history.

Now, this film is no Hot Fuzz, but it may well be the next best thing. It’s blisteringly funny, painfully self-aware, and so, so, so much fun. If you’re looking to laugh your balls off, plop yourself down in front of 21 Jump Street.

Allistair Pinsof: Sure, Jonah Hill yells and someone gets shot in the nuts, but there is a lot more depth to 21 Jump Street’s humor than these things may imply. Rather than playing out like Billy Madison meets a buddy cop film, 21 Jump Street presents an accurate depiction of the modern high school. The comedy is in the truth of it all: Hipsters are the new jocks and the old jocks are the new nerds. Seeing Schmidt and Jenko try to fit into the social structure is a lot of fun, and it helps that there are some hilarious scenarios involving drugs, vandalism, and guns. A lot of effort is put into setting up and breaking down the friendship between these two rookie cops, but it never resonates as much as the humor does. In the end, the film falls flat but offers some of the biggest laughs in recent memory, mostly due to its clever script and fantastic cast. Ice Cube, who plays the rookie’s irritable captain, steals the show. — 76, Good