21 Jump Street
has become the latest '80s television show to receive the Hollywood remake treatment. The police drama had its funny moments, but it also spent a lot of time dealing with serious issues, such as drugs, teen pregnancy and suicide. The 21 Jump Street
movie decides to go in the opposite direction of the original to present a straight up comedy – and it's probably the best decision they made.
Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) were mortal enemies in high school. Jenko was a popular jock and Schmidt thought dressing like Eminem would make him cool. Fast forward seven years and they're both applying for the police academy. During training they realize they have complementary strengths: Jenko is adept at the physical challenges and Schmidt does well on tests. They call a truce, agreeing to help each other out and becoming best friends in the process. Based solely on their youthful features, they’re recruited to the newly resurrected Jump Street division and sent undercover to infiltrate a high school drug ring.
There is only one reason this film will work for fans of the original television series: it makes fun of itself. Early on in the film, a character refers to the lack of originality that exists today and the need to recycle old ideas. He’s of course referring to the revival of the undercover program, but the double meaning is clear. Arrival at the familiar rundown Church on Jump Street leads to a speech about embracing the stereotypes, singling out the angry Black captain (Ice Cube) and the handsome but dumb Jenko. High school is nothing if not a runway of stereotypes. However, after nearly a decade since they last walked those hallowed halls, they quickly learn a lot has changed.
As Jenko establishes their strategy for gaining the attention of the popular kids, it becomes increasingly obvious that cool has changed over the years. The sexy muscle car has been replaced by the eco-friendly hybrid; not caring and teasing those who do is no longer the key to the kingdom; and the cliques have evolved well beyond the basic geek and jock. Jenko has a lot of trouble wrapping his head around the fact that Schmidt is now the cool one, and Jenko is relegated to being his loser brother.
Another treat and inside joke for fans of the original is cameos by the TV series’ original cast. Officer Judy Hoffs (Holly Robinson Peete) makes a brief appearance. However, if you’re watching closely, you may be able to spot the presence of the original McQuaid Brothers, Officers Tom Hanson and Doug Penhall (Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise, respectively). Even Officer Harry Ioki (Dustin Nguyen) is in attendance… sort of.
All in all, this is not the atrocity it could have been and offers plenty of laughs to followers of the original and the uninitiated.
Directors: Phil Lord
and Chris Miller
Starring: Jonah Hill
, Channing Tatum
and Rob Riggle