Sunday, March 25, 2012

Review: 21 Jump Street (2012)

“I think what he means is that he will punch you so many times around the genital region that your dick will fall off.”

Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum and Dave Franco
Writers: Michael Bacall
Directors: Phil Lord, Chris Miller

My expectations for this film were pretty low, even with the good reviews it was getting I wasn’t sure if the world really needed a new 21 Jump Street. I then heard that the head writer Michael Bacall also helped write Scott Pilgrim vs the World, and the directors of the movie were the minds behind Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs; probably one of my favourite animated movies. So it was time to role the dice.

The story focuses on Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum), two graduates of police academy being sent to the undercover unit in 21 Jump Street after a botched arrest. Being placed in high school their job is find a drug ring and shut it down. It seems like a simple plot that guarantees laughs with a fish out of water story. However it’s amazing how much heart they managed to cram into this adult comedy. As for the comedy itself I was laughing pretty consistently, the beginning has some nice Meta jokes, but there is a particular scene about a third of the way through that changes the whole ball game and the movie really starts going out of its way to subvert expectations. I started laughing more, and I wasn’t the only one as you could sense the turn in the audience. All I’ll say about the scene is that drugs are bad mmkay.

Acting wise the entire movie is stolen by Channing Tatum. This has to be one of his best roles, and not only that it shows that he’s a more than capable actor. I know I was surprised myself. Not only is he hilarious as the meathead jock, but he manages to actually add a lot of depth to the character with out negating the funny. It’s a job well done. Jonah Hill is also great but in a way he’s playing straight man to Channing’s character. That’s not to say he isn’t hilarious himself, but it’s nice that he’s backing someone else. Another highlight also has to be Dave Franco as Eric. He’s played the high school top dog before, but his comic timing seems to be really working with this script. Adding in the sly dig at high school social consciousness gives him a lot of funny dialogue to bite into. All the other actors do a fine enough job, though they might be hamming it up a little for some people’s tastes.

One thing that really surprised me about this movie was the fun the directors have with the visual style. At times this reminded me of an animated movie made real life. Phil Lord and Chris Miller not only have a talent for enhancing the comedy with some great visuals, but they also have away of making fun of genre staple clichés on the sly while also revelling in them. It’s one of the reasons why I loved Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. I absolutely have faith in these two and I want them to make more.

Do I recommend this movie? Oh hell yeah. This is just one of those movies where everyone is having fun and it shows. With strong performances from the leads, and a great visual style, this was a surprise, a very pleasant surprise. As always sure this movie isn’t deep, but it still has some heart. The only thing is that this movie is an adult comedy and as such there will be people who just can’t get into the humour. But to those who are fans of the two’s previous work, and don’t mind a little adult humour then go for it. The only way this movie would be better is with the introduction of Ratbirds.

1 Tatum out of 1
Entertaining with some very sly jabs at the very movie it is.
0.5 Tatum out of 1
Simplistic, but it has heart and works really well.
1 Tatum out of 1
Jonah and Channing are a treat and work well together.
1 Tatum out of 1
Miller and Lord have a deft touch with comedy.
1 Tatum out of 1
For such a movie it's pretty slick and looks excellent.

4.5 Tatum's out of 5
A parody movie that knows how to bring the comedy.


  1. Hill and Tatum are great together here and add a lot to this film’s comedy but it’s just the way it is all written that makes it even richer. It’s making fun of those high school comedy conventions but at the same time, is inventing it’s own as it goes on. Great review Dan.

  2. Thankyou very much. I can't express how much fun I had with this movie. I'm glad others are enjoying it.