May 9, 2012
After the uneven, not-so-good results of other remakes of 80s TV series like "Charlie's Angels," "Miami Vice," or "The A-Team," I was not really expecting to like this remake of "21 Jump Street." This is especially since it was going to be a comedy, which usually mocks the original, instead of pay tribute to it. However, with critics fawning all over it with rave reviews, I was compelled to give it a chance.
Like the original TV series that inspired it, a couple of young-looking cops -- fat nerd Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and dimwit jock Jenko (Channing Tatum) -- are given the assignment to go undercover in a high school to investigate the proliferation of designer drugs. The film follows their misadventures as the case also challenges them individually and tests their friendship. After raunchy comedies had their heyday last year (with "Hangover 2," "Bridesmaids," "Horrible Bosses"), the gross-out gags here were tame in comparison. I did not enjoy seeing high school kids being bullies or drug addicts or foul-mouths. However, the chemistry between the two leads, and the heart of the storyline about their friendship did make a difference. The surprise climactic cameo guest appearances were very welcome indeed, though I was disappointed about how that ended.
I have not seen "Superbad" which launched Jonah Hill into comic superstardom. I only knew him from his more serious Oscar-nominated turn in "Moneyball." He is quite funny as Schmidt. He was not afraid to make fun of himself. Anyone who would not be embarrassed about running around in a dorky green Peter Pan costume while chasing criminals should be given top props. Channing Tatum is more known as a romantic lead ("Step Up") or action hero ("GI Joe"), so he was the unknown quantity in this movie. While his straight man act is quite unexpectedly okay, he still looked a bit uncomfortable in a lot of scenes.
Overall, this film was OK. It was a hilarious and fun ride in general, and it had a heart amidst all that. Warning though that you would have to go through rough patches of obscenities and drug scenes involving high school kids which may not really sit well with all audiences.