The Fast and the Furious, Superbad and Never Been Kissed. You wouldn't see these films stacked together in the video store, or maybe nowadays on your Netflix browser, but when you throw the best parts of these films together into the melting pot of motion picture, 21 Jump Street is the brilliant result. From directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs), comes this explosively funny action comedy starring Jonah Hill (Moneyball) and Channing Tatum (The Vow).
Based on the 80s TV series starring a young Johnny Depp, this modern adaption follows Schmidt and Jenko; enemies in High School, best friends as police rookies, who after botching an arrest are sent to 21 Jump Street police stationand embark on a mission to take down a high school drug ring by enrolling as students, undercover.
This case is made that much more difficult by the changing landscape of the high school scene in which the cool kids, led by Dave Franco (Fright Night) have a sophisticated appreciation for the environment and look down on the conformist traditions of organized sports. A fact that sees the former Quarterback Jenko looked down upon by these popular peers, paving the way for Schmidt to experience the student life he had always dreamed of.
"When [Schmidt] gets sent back to high school, undercover, he gets drunk with power, forgets about his police work, [and] forgets about his friendship with Jenko. He likes living this fake high school life - better than the life he has as a guy in his mid-20s," says Jonah Hill.
The Oscar-nominated star may have lost the weight, but he certainly hasn't lost his comic appeal, going from high school zero to police hero. Schmidt is a familiar role for Hill, but the character is more a mash up of Jonah and Evan from Superbad, as the super smart but super awkward rookie cop. But that doesn't mean we aren't still treated to a stream of pithy one-liners that has you choking on your popcorn.
That's not to say Tatum is trapped in the former's comedic shadow. Although the Adonis-like actor who made his name as a teen dream and bad ass action man in such films as Step Up, Dear John and G.I. Joe, his funny turn as Jenko packs just as much a punch. And their clear chemistry will go down as one of the funniest bromances to be seen on screen this year.
Now Hill and Tatum may be the main attraction, but applause has to be given to a few members of the supporting cast. Ice Cube, nails the stereotypical angry black police captain (and he knows it) whilst Rob Riggle (Stepbrothers) proves just as hilarious as Mr. Walters the gym teacher. But Nick Offerman as Deputy Chief Hardy is the master of deadpan delivery, and as the actor who plays one of my favourite characters on television (Ron Swanson in Parks & Recreation) I hope we see more of hiim on the silver screen in the future.
What's refreshing about this remake is that it never tries to pretend it's not. A remake that is. The writers' use of intertextuality in the script is self-deprecating in their acknowledgement of that fact. Basically, they're taking the piss out of themselves for rehashing an old story, but we're not laughing at them, we're laughing with them. Or should I say guffawing, because that's the only way I can describe the sound coming from the audience. Myself included.
I won't tell you their name (I'm sure you'll guess who I'm talking about soon enough - if not, shame on you), but for one particular actor, this marks the first of 3 appearances in films based on past TV series, with Dark Shadows and The Lone Ranger coming to our screens later this year and next. And as special appearances go, this one is a brilliant compliment to the story, up there with Bill Murray's cameo in Zombieland.
Not since Lethal Weapon or Die Hard has their been a police action comedy worthy of a mention, so if you want to restore your faith in the fallen genre, 21 Jump Street is the movie for you.
In cinemas: this Friday, 16th March.
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