21 Jump Street – Movie Review
Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on April 20, 2012 | No Comments
PRODUCER – Neal H. Moritz, Stephen J. Cannell
DIRECTOR – Phil Lord, Chris Miller
WRITER – Michael Bacall (story and screenplay), Jonah Hill (story), Patrick Hasburgh and Stephen J. Cannell(television series)
CAST – Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Brie Larson, Dave Franco
MUSIC – Mark Mothersbaugh
The Jump Street series of 80’s that made Johnny Depp a teen idol finds a film version with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in the lead. The story is simple (and rather cute). Two young, just out of school, under-performing police officers are assigned a drug-busting case in a school. They masquerade as school boys to mix in with the crowd and find the dirty drug-dealing guys. Hill as Schmidt and Tatum as Jenko get to work and while they are at it, get into a lot of trouble, grow up a bit and in between have a lot of fun.
This Phil Lord and Chris Miller version is a light-hearted tale of brotherhood and male friendship mixed with a little bit of teenage angst and goofs. Written with a keen sense of humour that finely balances batty with slapstick, 21 Jump Street works in more ways than one. There is a coming-of-age story here that runs as a mild sub-text for character growth in both Schmidt and Tatum’s characters. At the same time there is a touch and go connection with the teenage world that rings true without having to try too hard.
The film keeps itself simple, which is probably its greatest strength. There is action but not gut-busting dramatic sequences. There is romance but not the moony kind. There is humour, not rip-roaring but the heart-warming type. And in between all of this is a little bit of imaginative story-telling that doesn’t shy away from out-of-the-box thinking. Hence, we chuckle in good humour when reactions of dopey characters are announced in video-game style titles and characters from the original TV series appear unannounced, temporarily turning the plot on its head yet drawing more laughs. There is a delightful two-minute surprise package here that, in audience interest, shall not be revealed here.
There isn’t anything startlingly different or new in the characters or their journey. But the seamless mix of the boys as police officers and the boys as boys makes it refreshingly warm. The inevitable overlapping of personal and professional lives, unfamiliarity with boundaries of friendship or learning of loyalty and courage may sound lofty concepts but the lightness with which they are explored gives the film its edge. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum perform with a gusto keeping sprightly step with every nuance of their character’s journey, however unassuming it may be.
Unassuming then, is probably the reason why this light-hearted, goofball film works. But for refreshing comedies one doesn’t need to understand the why, the fact that it works is enough, isn’t it?