Published March 14, 2012
A remake of the late 80s television series that put Johnny Depp on the map, this updated comedy pays homage to the original while keeping the laughs fresh. The tight script by Michael Bacall and perfect on-screen chemistry between Hill and Tatum make the trip down Jump Street a memorable one.
Hill and Tatum play polar opposites Schmidt and Jenko. The film opens with the two in high school with pretty-boy jock Tatum bullying braces-laden nerd Hill. It then jumps seven years, and the two have just become partners on the local police force and are sent undercover to pose as sibling high school students to bust a teen drug ring.
The heart of the movie is the interaction between Hill and Tatum. The two own their roles. They are so natural at being dim bulb undercover cops as “21 Jump Street” pokes fun at contemporary action films while also cleverly turning high school stereotypes on their heads.
There’s plenty of raunchiness in the film, too, as there seems to be in every modern comedy these days, but the cleverness of the characters' stupidity is what gives the film its biggest laughs. For instance, there’s a lengthy chase scene with Hill dressed in a Peter Pan costume and Tatum dressed as a molecule chart that is as hilarious as it is exciting.
Hill and Tatum are matched with a wonderful supporting cast of characters, featuring Brie Larson (“United States of Tara”), Jake Johnson (“The New Girl”), Ellie Kemper (“The Office)”, Chris Parnell (“30 Rock”) and Ice Cube (“Boyz n the Hood”). The film also incorporates 80s music and sound effects, but with unexpected twists and turns, as well as some surprises from the original show.
With two stars at the top of their game, “21 Jump Street” is the first comedy of 2012 that is actually laugh-out-loud funny.