Friday, 25 May 2012

21 Jump Street (2012)

It's time for yet another old TV show to be given a comedy makeover as 21 Jump Street hits the big screen and I must start off this review by saying that this is a film once again based on a TV show that I have no knowledge of. Well, I understand that the basic premise revolved around an undercover police unit working at a school but beyond that I know nothing.

The movie starts off in 2005, showing us a couple of very different young men. Schmidt (Jonah Hill) is a loser while Jenko (Channing Tatum) is the handsome, popular guy who makes fun of him. The one thing they have in common is that neither is going to the prom. Move forward a few years and Schmidt and Jenko end up in the same group training for the police. The two men help each other out and become firm friends. Sadly, they don't seem to be very good cops and after messing up their first arrest they are transferred over to the Jump Street project - an undercover operation that will send them back to high school in an attempt to bust a drug ring. Strange as it may seem, in the intervening years the smart and caring kids have become the cool ones and the aggressive rebels aren't so beloved as they once were. Schmidt and Jenko have to struggle to adapt to their new roles but cracking the case must remain at the top of their agenda. Well, that and maybe going to the prom.

Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, and with a script written by Michael Bacall (based on a story worked out by himself and Jonah Hill), 21 Jump Street has plenty of great one-liners, a few decent comedy action sequences and some obvious but amusing character development.

The real ace up its sleeve, however, is the central pairing of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. I have enjoyed the work of both actors in a number of other movies but they play off each other brilliantly here, with Tatum showing a real flair for comedy, and the chemistry between them ensures that this film rattles from start to finish with not one dull moment.

The rest of the cast all do very well, it's just clear that the movie is at its peak when Tatum and Hill are the focus. Brie Larson is cute as Molly - the young lady who catches Schmidt's eye, Dave Franco is very good as Eric (a cool guy but also a main suspect), Rob Riggle is as hilarious as ever in the role of Mr. Walters, Ice Cube is very entertaining as the angry Captain Dickson, Ellie Kemper is very funny as Miss Griggs - distracted by Jenko and there are far too many other names that I could single out for praise if I had the time/space/inclination but just trust me when I say that everyone does a fantastic job. There are also a few great cameos for fans to watch out for so keep your eyes peeled.

To be honest, I didn't expect much from this film. I was hoping for a few laughs but I was worried that it would be yet another comedy with all of the best moments already shown in the trailer. That certainly wasn't the case. It's slick and full of plenty of intelligence working alongside the dumber elements but also, and most importantly, it was laugh out loud funny for most of the runtime. Fans of the original show may not like the fact that it has been given a comedy makeover so do bear that in mind but for everyone else - I suggest giving this one a watch ASAP if you want your funny bone tickled.


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