What younger audiences may not know about 21 Jump Street is that it’s a remake of the 1987-1981 TV show of the same name, which starred a young Johnny Depp. As in the new movie, the cops met at 21 Jump Street and were part of an undercover team. I’ve watched a few episodes of the TV show and I’d like to watch more of it, especially after seeing the movie remake, which is more hilarious and raunchy than I thought it would be, but which definitely will please audiences.
The film starts out in 2005, and we see Schmidt (the newly svelte Jonah Hill, Moneyball) as a dork with braces. He musters up the courage to ask out one of the prettiest girls in school to the prom, only to be met with a look of pity from her and derision from her boyfriend, Jenko (Channing Tatum, The Vow). Flash-forward to present day, and both Schmidt (looking decidedly less dorky) and Jenko are in the police academy trying to become police officers. Jenko is great at the physical aspects like running, while Schmidt is great at the tests and quizzes they take, so they decide to team up to help each other, and become friends in the process. They’re assigned to patrol the park on bikes, but when they make their first drug bust, Schmidt loses his “perp” and Jenko fails to correctly read the Miranda rights, so the suspect is let free; it probably doesn’t help that Schmidt fires a few celebratory gunshots into the air as well, prompting all the park-goers to run in the opposite direction.
Because of their ineptitude, the two are assigned to 21 Jump Street, where they find that they will go undercover as high schoolers, trying to figure out who is selling the newest “it drug” at the high school; their goal is to prevent it from spreading to other schools. They soon find that high school is way different from when they graduated in 2005; for one, Schmidt becomes friends with the “popular kids,” who are into drama and saving the environment, while Jenko, albeit the more handsome of the two, ends up with the nerds, who helps him in his “App Chem” class, as he pronounces it (rather than “A.P. Chem”). The two must identify the school’s drug dealers so as to eventually find the supplier.
This movie starts out fast and furious with the laughs, though they gradually taper off, getting stronger near the end of the film. In a weird way, the movie reminded me a little bit of Never Been Kissed, except in that movie Drew Barrymore’s character was a newswoman going undercover in high school, not a cop (and, coincidentally, James Franco was in that movie, and his brother, Dave, is in this one). Jenko was super popular the first time in high school but can’t “figure out” this new hierarchy, whereas Schmidt enjoys being in the “in-crowd” for once; in fact, he gets so wrapped up in high school that he often forgets their mission there.
Yes, see this film, but be aware it’s super raunchy (i.e., maybe not the best film for younger viewers to watch). It reminded me of another Jonah Hill movie, Superbad, especially in one scene where they throw a party; it’s almost like Hill’s character in that film is now grown up and a police officer, as the two characters are very similar. Tatum and Hill make a great pair together, even though their characters were not friends in high school, and I hope they do a sequel to 21 Jump Street, as the movie definitely leaves the possibility open at the end. The film was a lot sillier than I thought it would be, too, and you can get a sense of that from the trailer. 21 Jump Street is one of the better comedies I’ve seen in a while, and should attract a huge following based solely on Tatum and Hill’s star power; fans of the TV show will most likely enjoy this new remake as well.
21 Jump Street is in theaters today, March 16th, and is rated R with a runtime of 109 minutes.
*Author’s Note: I saw a screening of this film on February 9th. The version I saw may or may not be the final version.