As Hollywood continues to mine old properties for new franchises, we can only hope that the final product onscreen is entertaining enough to be worth our time and money-for the most part adaptations and reboots suck.
21 Jump Street thankfully bucks the trend by being almost unrecognizable from its source material.
It’s a decision that serves the new 21 jumpstreet well. By operating in a Appatowian universe with its own set of internal logic, the movie serves up fried comedy gold not seen since 2007’s Superbad.
When high school jock Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) and high school nerd Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) defy odds to become an odd couple during police academy, a friendship, nay, brotherhood is formed. Despite being hilariously inept, the two graduate into park cops, hungry for a collar. When a drugs bust goes wrong for them they are placed into a undercover program. Working out of 21 Jump Street, they are tasked to infiltrate a local school and find the supplier of a new drug hitting the streets.
I’ll get it this out of the way right now: Hill and Tatum are hilarious. This odd couple pairing isn’t so odd after all as the two have a natural chemistry that is so infectious and watchable you’ll wonder if the two really hit it off this well in real life. Hill brings his awkward everyman shtick to new levels, being both earnest and unsettling at the same time. Tatum however, knocks it out of the park and perhaps has found his niche. Ridiculed at the start of his career for lacklustre acting, it seems that all he needed was a change of genre. What’s even more surprising is that we’re laughing with him rather than at him. He works so well in a comedy I’m surprised no one thought of this sooner.
The supporting cast puts their best foot forward as well, a collection of both established comedians and new faces to keep things fresh. Of note is Dave Franco, younger brother of James Franco, who is so much like his brother I thought the kid was supposed to be a parody of the elder Franco. Brie Larson is thankfully in a role that doesn’t slut her up, and it’s nice seeing her go for the sweet instead of the sexy. And Ellie Kemper will always be adorable wherever she is.
It would be enough just to see the two leads go at it, but a wonderful script by Michael Bacall (working in tandem with Hill) grounds the characters and the proceedings in structure and struggle. Rather than explode jokes all over the place, there are a lot of plants and payoffs, emotional arcs and actual character development. In short, there is method to the madness. Much like Bacall’s previous effort, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, the setting becomes almost a hyper real place, magnifying tropes and clichés to create a world that suits the type of comedy 21 Jump Street deals in.
This is still a cop movie, and wouldn’t be one without some action. It won’t blow people away, coming off the heels of the Avengers, but is action motivated by the movie’s comedy: awkward and irreverent. It works surprisingly well, and there’s a car chase mid-movie that is quite brilliant in serving the action-comedy. Violence is used as a comedic device and it never stops serving the comedy.
To be sure-it’s certainly not for everyone.
If you’re tired of the overtly profane and almost non-sequitur type of improvisational awkward situations and comedy, then 21 Jump Street certainly won’t change your mind. But there is a sweet and gooey center to everything; it’s an adrenaline fuelled comedy pumped furiously by a heart as big as its laughs.
PARA SA MGA TAMAD MAGBASA
Thus far, the comedy of the summer. Tatum is a revelation. Watch it with friends.