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21 Jump Street

21 Jump Street

What She said:

She

21 Jump Street latches on to a classic formula that has been used time and time again—an adult goes back to high school, undercover of course, and learns it bit about him- or herself in the meantime.  Of course, it’s not easy.  Said adult usually has flashbacks of traumatic teen years that they must overcome.  But typically all works out well in the end. 

In this movie, there are actually two gents who go back to high school.  They’re young failing bike cops, yearning for more excitement but hopelessly screwing up at every turn.  Jenko (Channing Tatum) was actually quite popular in high school, but he’s also ridiculously dumb.  The guy can’t even remember the Miranda Rights.  Schmidt (Jonah Hill) was a super loser in high school, and, although intelligent, is a bit too bumbly to succeed as a cop.  So, the department assigns them to undercover duty in a local high school that has been experiencing a surge in this new, deadly designer drug.  The guys take the job very seriously, and actually make strides and figuring out who is dealing and supplying the drug to students.  Of course, there’s lots of laughs as well, as Jenko and Schmidt struggle to fit in to today’s high school life.  The spoiler is that high school culture has changed a lot in the few years since they’ve graduated.

The movie is pretty funny, although there was a certain non-creative vulgarism that annoyed me.  Don’t get me wrong; I love vulgar humor (think Superbad).  But this vulgar just involves using the same couple of offensive words over and over, not exactly the most outside-the-box stuff.  I think it’s just a bit of lazy writing.  Aside from that little peeve, I thought the movie was pretty good.  Channing Tatum, who I usually think is terrible, was funny.  You can tell that he’s slowly becoming a better actor, although I’m not certain he’s really stretching his abilities by playing Jenko.  Once I see him perform Shakespeare I’ll be truly impressed.  Skinny Jonah Hill is a bit startling, but he plays the role of Schmidt well.  He puts on his typical “I’m a loser who just wants to be liked” persona, and it works.

There is a beyond awesome cameo in this movie that I can’t believe I didn’t hear about beforehand.  If you’re fortunate enough to be unaware of it as well, it’ll really make your day.  21 Jump Street is a bit campy, a bit action packed, and a bit silly, but it all wraps up in a nice little bundle that’s easy to digest.

Thumbs up.

What he said:

He

Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) are the exact opposites. Jenko is popular, good at sports, and a hit with the ladies, while Schmidt just wants to be noticed. He’s a smart and nice enough guy, but is the kind of person who is mocked by the likes of Jenko. He just wants to be accepted, but is mocked by the “cooler” kids.

All of that changes though when the two see each other for the first time in years at the police academy. The two are exact opposites and that translates into their strength at the academy. Jenko is really good at all the physical stuff, while Schmidt’s test scores are through the roof. The two realize this and team up to help one another. They actually end up becoming best friends and later partners.

The only problem is now that they have finally graduated, their careers haven’t panned out like they had hoped. They are stuck doing things like enforcing littering laws or helping people retrieve their Frisbee out of a pond. That all changes when they make a drug-related arrest. The problem with that is they forgot to do it by the book and the suspects are free to walk.

This leads to a new special assignment. They are picked to lead a sting operation in a local high school. Their assignment is to pose as new students and find out who is dealing this new kind of drug. This leads to all kinds of shenanigans and hilarity.This is a pretty typical raunchy action/comedy, but hey if it works it works.

Channing Tatum has been in some terrible chick flicks and just a bunch of bad movies in general. But he has really honed is craft lately. I hear Magic Mike is actually pretty good and he was hilarious in this as far as I was concerned. I always thought he was kind of a meathead, so to play that role really worked for me. He took what I  had always assumed about him – and obviously some casting directors did as well – and just went with it. It works, because the character is insanely dumb.

Jonah Hill is his typical self playing the, “I just want to be liked” guy. That isn’t anything new, but it works for him. It’s especially funny when the modern teenager responds more to him that previous popular kid Jenko. This completely throws both of them a curveball and adds a nice layer to the movie. It would have been easy to make Tatum’s character the popular one again.

Rating: Thumbs up.

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