Film Review: 21 Jump Street
Let me start by admitting the only knowledge I had of the original show was that it was something for Johnny Depp to be embarrassed about from his early career.
Apparently nothing about his later career is embarrassing.
Because apparently Sweeney Todd, The Tourist, anything he’s done since meeting Tim Burton, they don’t exist.
TL;DR Surprise! This movie is actually funny. The story and premise are pretty stupid, but the jokes are funny, and I think the whole thing is self-aware enough to enjoy. 3 out of 5 stars.
So yeah, isn’t Channing Tatum 32 years old? Yes he is.
How old is Jonah Hill? He’s 28. And he’s been playing a teenager for the past 5 years. Come on, casting agency.
I think that’s probably the most annoying thing about this movie. These guys are way too old to come across as high school students. Channing Tatum is worse. The most memorable thing about The Vow was his crow’s feet. I distinctly remember thinking to myself “shit, he has some bad crow’s feet. Still wouldn’t question being married to him, though.” The makers of 21 Jump Street must have borrowed Jennifer Aniston’s private reserve of soft lighting to make them disappear here, though. It was very strange.
Oh, and here’s another tip for casting agents. You know what losing a shit tonne of weight does? It makes you look older. So don’t take Jonah Hill, who is already too old and barely pulled it off in Superbad, shave 50kgs off him, then expect him to still be high school appropriate. I mean, points for losing the weight, but you look way too old to be a high school student.
To be fair, the clear age disparity is occassionally pointed out by the characters in the movie, but not nearly enough. I mean, Channing Tatum? Really?
21 Jump Street also focuses far too much on the high school trivialities going on. Didn’t we learn our lesson from Never Been Kissed? These are police officers trying to shut down a drug ring. Do any straight males really care about going to the prom that much?
On the plus side, there are a number of fantastic scenes and jokes. They come pretty thick at the end, with special mentions going to the car chase scene with the bikies, and the amazingly inappropriate ending to Peter Pan.
Why I hate this movie:
Even Dave Franco is 27. Jesus Christ.
There’s nothing really special about either of the main characters. Jonah Hill was a loser but now he’s cool. Channing Tatum was a douche but now people actually beleive in his abilities to excel. Predictability ensues.
Speaking of the cool kids, what the fuck? Since when did eco-friendly, hipster fuckwads become the most popular kids in school? I don’t buy it.
Hill’s character falls in love with a high school girl. Nobody points out that this is disgusting because he is 25 and she is 17/18. Gross.
Are bicycle police a thing? Holy shit.
Tatum (back when his character actually was in high school. And he still looks too old) gets banned from going to the prom because his grades weren’t good enough. I’ve known people who couldn’t go due to being suspended too much or truancy, but never heard of this. And that principal is a bitch.
Oh, and the movie oddly seems to go to pains to make drug abuse look awesome. I know it’s not supposed to be a PSA, but anyone who takes the fictional drug has an amazing time (except for that one guy who, you know, died). The whole issue was kinda nudged to the side, but considering the major plot thread concerns the police shutting down the supply of this lethal party drug, it was weird they just brushed it off like that.
Reasons to watch:
There are a couple of 4th wall breaking moments that I have a lot of respect for. Take this from Nick Offerman’s character:
“The guys in charge of this stuff lack creativity and are completely out of ideas. So all they do now is recycle shit from the past and expect us all not to notice.”
This is right after he tells our heroes that the police are reviving a cancelled “program” from the 80s. It’s shit like this that gets me wet.
The angry, black captain also breaks some 4th wall when he points out that he’s an angry, black captain stereotype.
Tatum’s chemistry teacher does a very bad job of covering up how horny she is for him. It’s pretty adorable.
Tatum makes an extremely attractive bully during the flashback scene. Even with that Taylor Kitsch hair.
There are 2 contenders for best line, and I can’t decide which one I like more. Dave Franco turns out to be the head drug dealer, and our heroes pay him a visit while he’s editing the year book (because the most popular boy in school does that kind of thing in this movie). He informs them that they have to take the drug in front of him so he knows they won’t narc, and we get this: “Take it now or get the fuck out. I gotta finish the girls volleyball page by lunch.” Priority dissonance!
The other one would be when Hill and Tatum are confused about who’s popular, and Tatum comes up with the theory that Glee is to blame. “Fuck you, Glee.” I agree.
The car chase sequence has a few subversions of the traditional explosions you’d expect (for example, a truck carrying propane tanks. And a fuel tanker). These work extremely well. Plus, we get the massive payoff during the limo chase at the end.
Points for including the original Jump Streeters in cameo roles.
Hill’s mum makes a joke about how she partied with Robert Downey Jr before he got sober, back when he was fun. I loved it.
Oh, and at the prom, Vitamin C’s Graduation (Friends Forever) plays during the slide show. Perfection.
There’s a lot to like here. A lot of simple joke setups and some satisfying self-awareness. If only it wasn’t bogged down by such a stock standard plot and unambitious character development. And Channing Tatum is 32, for fuck’s sake. 3 out of 5 stars.