Theatrical release: 03/16/2012 DVD Date: 06/26/2012
Rating: R Running Time: 109 minutes
Note(s): An original screenplay based on the television series 21 Jump Street, created by Stephen J. Cannell and Patrick Hasburgh.
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Review: I suppose I should get in the habit of expecting so little of a film that when it exceeds my already low expectations that I'm glad I watched it.
Such is the case for 21 Jump Street. The late 1980s/early 1990s TV series that serves as the inspiration for this film isn't classic or iconic television by any stretch of the imagination, but when I read that a movie was being adapted from it, an action comedy no less, I couldn't be less interested. And yet, here I am reviewing it. And it's not altogether terrible.
Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill star as Jenko and Schmidt, who are introduced in the film's first few minutes as high school students on opposite sides of the spectrum: Jenko the cool jock, Schmidt the awkward nerd. They are reunited several years later at a police academy — it's never explained how both came to be there — and become best of buds, even partners after graduation. Because of their youthful looks — neither looks all that young to me, but that's a minor quibble, and actually the fact that they look so much older at times plays into the humor of the film — they are assigned to the Jump Street program, officers posing as teenagers in an effort to keep high school crime under control. That's the basic premise of the TV series, and the premise of the film.
The first hour of 21 Jump Street is really quite entertaining. Channing Tatum is surprisingly charming — and animated, something haven't seen much from him — playing a jock trying to fit in with the new normal of high school, which has changed dramatically from when he was a student. Jonah Hill is predictably awful in his role, though he does have a few good lines. He's credited as co-developing the story for the film; maybe he should stay behind the camera, as he has almost no screen presence and is the only significant negative in the film. I honestly couldn't tell you who else was in the film; the supporting roles are mostly forgettable, nothing that stands out but then again, nothing that seriously detracts.
The second half isn't nearly as entertaining as the first, suffering mostly from its utter and absolute predictability. It's OK, but if the entire film were like this, I wouldn't be recommending it … which I am. I wouldn't go out and buy it unless I was a diehard fan of the leads, but it's definitely worth a rental. Overall, it is harmless — and mindless — entertainment, and sometimes we all need a little of that to keep us from taking everything else in life so seriously.