Don’t Evade the Comedy of 21 Jump Street

When you think back to high school, do you shudder at the thought of braces and being shoved into lockers? Or do you think of varsity jackets and ruling the hallways? No matter what your repressed memories of the golden years are, 21 Jump Streetwill still keep you laughing all the way to the “Korean Jesus” of this famous address.

For Schmidt (Jonah Hill), his nightmares of high school consist of bleach blonde hair and being rejected by his dream girl for the prom. Jenko (Channing Tatum), on the other hand, looks fondly back on those four years as the football star.

However, several years have passed since the awkward time of adolescence, and Jenko and Schmidt are now partners-againstcrime (or the lack thereof) as police officers. But, being that they are basically inept at doing anything but handing out tickets, they are assigned to patrol the local park on their bicycles.

After a stint involving a local gang of bikers and a lack of Miranda rights, Jenko and Schmidt are given a new assignment: go undercover as high school students to try and bust who is creating and selling a new drug that is taking over the campus and killing students. Their operation is known as 21 Jump Street, which is also the address the operation is based out of, known as the rundown Korean church in town.

Tatum is well-cast as the arrogant high school jock reminiscent of Kelso from “That 70’s Show.” And for every swooning teenage girl (and her mother), the movie frequently pokes fun of his good looks and his stereotypical dumb demeanor. Hill is also well-cast as his nerdyyet- still-kind-of-slow partner, making the pair the true underdogs of the precinct. Together, they form a brotherhood of great chemistry and a goofy sense of humor.

However, other parts aren’t cast as well, in light of their less-thansuperstar titles. Brie Larsen (Molly Tracey), the leading little lady of the film, comes across as a forgettable and stereotypical high school hipster. Also, Ice Cube, who plays Captain Dickson, overplays his role (although I get it’s supposed to be a little ridiculous) and gets annoying enough to the point where you want to hit him just so he stops cursing so much.

Even with this small fluke, the film is successful through its mix of action and comedy, making it a great date film and sure to keep everyone in your aisle happy. The casual jokes feel like improvisation from naturally funny Tatum and Hill. When doing a chemistry experiment with his AP Chemistry classmates, Jenko says, “This is what you science kids do all day? This is awesome. Let’s do it again.”

Some of the humor gets a little slapstick, complete with Jenko jumping through his drum set while on some unidentified substance. There’s also a funny car chase featuring Jenko in a chemistry sweater and Schmidt dressed as Peter Pan. “I’m wearing tights!” yells Schmidt, as he jumps into a stolen driver’s ed car, and Jenko retorts, “Well I’m wearing skinny jeans, which is basically the same thing.”

Other elements are overdone, like some of the costume choices of Leah Katznelson. How many high schoolers do you know who wear sleeveless sweatshirts? And we get it, Schmidt is the nerd at the start… does he really need a full-on Eminem ensemble?

Besides the fact that some of the earlier elements of the plot don’t make total sense (Why do Jenko and Schmidt become friends in the first place? Why did they become cops?), the overall elements flow together pretty nicely. Everything comes full circle in the end, quite the accomplishment for a movie based on the idea of high schoolrunning rampant, doing whatever you want and getting in trouble.

Even with a storyline stuffed full of jokes that will keep you laughing out loud, there are still some more mature themes, like the high school demons we all have lurking behind us when it feels like it’s been eons since we graduated. The film also pokes fun of today’s “trends,” like being “tolerant” and “environmentally friendly.”

So if you like car chases, drug deals, cameo appearances and cops on park bikes, give 21 Jump Street, and two underdog cops, a fighting chance.

IMAGE TAKEN from filmofilia.com