21 Jump Street
dir Phil Lord, Chris Miller
scr Michael Bacall
prd Stephen J Cannell, Neal H Moritz
with Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Ice Cube, Rob Riggle, Nick Offerman, Randal Reeder, Andrea Frankle, Holly Robinson Peete, Peter DeLuise, Johnny Depp
release US/UK 16.Mar.12
12/US Columbia 1h49
21 Jump Street
Baby faces: Tatum and Hill

larson franco cube
22 Jump Street (2014)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
21 Jump Street An especially sharp script makes this riotous adaptation of the serious-minded 1980s TV series thoroughly entertaining. And it manages to achieve a balance between the action and spoofery due to sure-handed direction and a cast that really dives into the mayhem.

Rivals in high school, popular pretty boy Jenko (Tatum) and smart-shy nerd Schmidt (Hill) become unlikely friends to get through police academy. But being cops isn't quite as exciting as they thought it would be until they're assigned to the Jump Street squad run by Captain Dickson (Cube). This group of baby-faced cops infiltrate high schools, posing as students. Jenko and Schmidt's assignment is to find the source of a new super-drug that recently caused the death of a student.

While the plot is a fairly standard action-comedy bromance, screenwriter Bacall packs the screenplay with hilariously astute observations, starting with the premise that things have changed rather dramatically since Jenko and Schmidt were teens themselves. Suddenly it's cool to be a smart vegetarian environmentalist, so now Jenko is the one who needs to adapt or die. Hill and Tatum have a great time with this role-reversal, as Hill romances a classmate (Larson) and befriends the brainy dealer (Franco) while Tatum clowns around with the chemistry dorks.

Along the way, the cast and crew add a continual stream of deranged comical moments, from throwaway silliness to knowing references that work both as snappy banter and post-modern nods to the TV series, including a parade of hilarious cameos. There are also several subplots that dovetail neatly into each other in ways that keep us on our toes. Sure, the action may be outrageously contrived, but the filmmakers have their tongues this firmly in their cheeks, so the exuberant mayhem is genuinely hilarious.

In perhaps their best performances yet, Hill and Tatum skilfully combine free-wheeling physical slapstick with witty wordplay. The fun they're clearly having is actually infectious for a change. They also emerge as genuinely interesting, oddly complex characters with a believable friendship, so when the bromance is strained, we actually feel it. And there aren't many buddy comedies that can give us a lump in our throats even though we never stop laughing.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, innuendo 16.Feb.12

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... 21 Jump Street Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall