March 25, 2012

21 Jump Street Review

My wife and I decided it was time for a date night. What better to do on a date than go to a movie. Without a lot to choose from, we decided on 21 Jump Street.

You may not have heard but The Huger Games came out with weekend. There were several reasons why we didn't want to see that. One of which is that I'm currently trying to read the first book. I'm not finding the appeal but I am trying to force myself through it. If I watched the movie theres no way I would finish the book. We were both in the mood for a comedy anyway.

There are plenty of teenage high school comedies out there. I expected 21 Jump Street to avoid the pitfalls most of them fall in to. It did that well. I didn't expect it to parody that genre, as well as the buddy cop genre, as much as it did. From the beginning I could tell this was going to be a good time, and it didn't disappoint. It is tough not to think of Schmidt from this movie as a continuation of Jonah Hill's character from Superbad. In fact, 21 Jump Street might be the best high-schooly movie I've seen since Superbad. It seems Jonah Hill has the secret sauce when it comes to the genre.

Hill was pretty great in 21 Jump Street, but let's not take anything away from Channing Tatum. I have somehow been influenced by all the Channing Tatum hate out there. I have no first-hand reason for it, but I always think of Tatum as a horrible actor. Granted, I haven't seen most of the movies he has been in, but I automatically assumed he was going to be bad in 21 Jump Street. I was wrong. He was actually pretty great. I enjoyed him in a comedic role. Something I definitely did not think I would be saying coming away from this film. Tatum is a good actor. I think he's just got a bad rap. Both Tatum and Hill were quite proficient at acting like people that don't exist in real life.

I'd never watched the 21 Jump Street television series so I may have missed a few of the comedic references in the movie. I don't think it was a huge deal though. There was a lot of parody on the buddy cop type movies, and action movies in general. It worked well. The beginning sequence in the park was great, and it set the tone for the ridiculousness that would follow. There was always a light-hearted nature to the comedy that made it easy to laugh at. I'm not sure I'm adequately communicating my point there. Hmm... Serious stuff goes down, but in the world that is set up you are able to laugh at it. Suspension of disbelief doesn't really matter in this movie.

There are a lot of meta moments that I found enjoyable. There is a line by Jonah Hill something to the effect that there is no originality anymore, they always have to dig up something old and remake it. I don't even remember what he was taking about in plot of the film, but it was pretty great. I saw another meta aspect that might be a bit more of a stretch. Tatum was the cool jock back when he was in high school. In giving tips to his partner he says that you can't try at anything. Trying is lame, and if you see anybody doing it you should make fun of them. In a sense, this film is tough to criticize because it is doing exactly that. It is making fun of movies that tried to be good, and never takes itself seriously. I think that is why is succeeds. I always looked at it as satire that wasn't trying for anything more.

The bottom line with any comedy is did it make you laugh. I laughed a ton. Success! I probably laughed more than I did at Superbad, which is a lot. Still, Superbad is probably a better film overall because it has a little more meat to it. 21 Jump Street is hilarious for sure, but there isn't a whole lot else there. There is a bit of romance, but it never carried much stakes. Probably because we are dealing with a guy in the second half of his 20's having a romantic relationship with a high school girl. I think they go out of their way to point out she is 18 for obvious reasons. It wasn't a focus of the film and I am thankful for that.

Go see 21 Jump Street. If you don't go see it, then rent it when it comes out for sure. It is a good time. It should make your mouth smile.

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