21 Jump Street Gets a Surprising Update
- Friday, March 16, 2012
DVD Release Date: June 26, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: March 16, 2012
Rating: R (for crude and strong sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, drug material and usage, teen drinking, and violence)
Run Time: 109 min.
Director: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Rob Riggle, Ellie Kemper
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following review contains references to and discussion of very mature subject matter. Parents please advised.
In the late ‘80s, the fledgling Fox Network had a breakout hit with 21 Jump Street, sort of a Miami Vice for the 16-to-24 demographic. Over four seasons it defined cool for high school and college-age young adults, and made Johnny Depp a sex symbol (a status his talents would eventually parlay into full-fledged stardom).
So twenty years later—at a time when old properties are routinely flipped into feature film franchises—the fact that it’d be the target of a motion picture reboot comes as little surprise; one wonders what actually took them so long. Maybe it was in deciding what angle they should actually take on it, and that’s where the surprise comes in.
Rather than updating the series with twenty-first century bling, they’ve dropped it into a new genre entirely: The Raunchy Comedy. The studio’s obviously going for that Superbad-size audience (which explains why they cast one of that film’s stars), and it might get it, but it’ll be in spite of the fact that this vulgar spin is just, well, super bad.
The premise remains the same, but little else. Young-looking L.A. cops are assigned to the 21 Jump Street precinct where they’re sent out as undercover agents to high schools and universities, infiltrating youth-driven criminal activity. It’s also intentionally set in the same universe of the late-‘80s series as a few (though not all—sorry die-hards) original cast members pop up in clever cameos.
Taking the place of the previous starring duo of Depp and Peter DeLuise is the oddball coupling of hunk Channing Tatum (The Vow) and schlub Jonah Hill (Moneyball). Former classmates themselves from opposite sides of the social sphere—Tatum’s Jenko being the jock, Hill’s Schmidt the nerd—the pair is now a new set of recruits fresh out of police boot camp, finding few thrills on the bike beat in neighborhood parks. That all changes at Jump Street where this green team is thrown back into high school to take down a drug ring.
In one of maybe two inspired ideas in an otherwise entirely lazy screenplay, what passes for cool has changed since Jenko and Schmidt’s time. The socially conscious hipsters that Jenko used to mock are now the popular clique and so, unexpectedly, Schmidt finds acceptance by the in-crowd this time around while Jenko’s status is out on the geeky fringe. Yet even while Jenko struggles to find his place with the dweebs, much of the alleged humor is played as Schmidt’s long-overdue high school wish fulfillment experience (with Jenko as coach and wingman).
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