Anthology of Interest: 21 Jump Street
Wednesday, April 4th, 2012
By Mike Girard
“37 Jump Street. Wait, no . . . that doesn’t sound right.” – Ron Swanson
I was a little skeptical upon first hearing about 21 Jump Street. The first on-set shots had Jonah Hill dressed in a James Bond-style white tuxedo with a very serious look on his face, and they were revealed about the same time as his ad for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. I was worried that Hill wanted to change his style, and that his new style would overshadow the comedian I’ve loved in films like Superbad and Knocked Up.
I was correct – Hill has changed his persona. Fortunately, it’s for the better. Most of his toilet humor has been replaced with clever throwbacks, shots at movie tropes, and a character with more overall versatility. Although, there is a lot of toilet humor left. But let’s be honest – what’s comedy without calling someone a dirty name? In this case, each reading of the Miranda Rights is followed by Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum excitedly shouting “F*CK YOU! YEAH!” at the suspect.
21 Jump Street follows Morton Schmidt (Hill) and Greg Jenko (Tatum), two high school enemies-turned-buddy-cops who have yet to make their first arrest. After a botched drug bust, they are reassigned to 21 Jump Street, an undercover division that specializes in high school and college infiltration. Their captain, the surprisingly hilarious Ice Cube, orders them to go undercover as brothers at their old school in order to stop the circulation of a new hallucinogen – one that they are eventually forced to take, leading to one of the funniest drug trip sequences ever.
Unlike so many film adaptations, 21 Jump Street realizes its place; the writers go so far as to refer to the entire division at 21 Jump Street as a “revamped program that was abandoned in the 80s,” and that it’s being used because apparently “people today can’t think of anything good, so they just take old crap and use it.” Lines like this are perfect – you can’t help but like something when it’s making fun of itself. The film makes great use of its cameos as well, which are both surprising and side-splitting. I’m also glad Channing Tatum is funny. I might not approve of The Vow and Dear John, but I can’t help but like him in this.
What I liked most about 21 Jump Street were its references to the fickleness of teenage culture. Greg, the once-popular jock, is perplexed when the new-age popular kids mock him for driving a gas-guzzling sports car. The two cops attempt to identify the various cliques, but are puzzled by a group wearing thick-framed glasses and messenger bags and listening to indie folk music. All of these changes are viewed with a “what the hell are they thinking?” attitude, which is, of course, a perfectly good question.
I saw this movie for the matinée price of $5. What a steal! Go see it, if you don’t believe me. Johnny Depp’s in it, so it must be good.