One of endearing classics from Fox Television’s earliest days was 21 Jump Street. For five seasons, we saw an elite group of fresh face police officers go undercover to investigate a variety of crimes through in high schools and colleges. A quarter of a century later, Street hits the big screen with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum at the helm. While this new film maybe considered a remake, Street takes on a life of its own while paying some respect to the original. Are you jump, back down on Jump Street?
In the year 2005, Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) were complete opposites in high school. Schmidt was the king of the nerds while Greg is the dopey-looking buff Big Man on Campus. When we first meet them, the mini Slim Shady “Schmitty” was asking a girl to the prom and got rejected, Jenko got the ultimate smack down when his grades were insufficient enough to attend the prom. Who know these two total opposites would become police partners seven years. They were ready for a life of crime… enforcement.
On their first assignment, they witness a drug deal in broad daylight. The good news, they arrested one of the perps. The bad news, Jenko commits the ultimate sin in law enforcement – they forgot to give the Miranda rights to the bad guy. Instead of being terminated from the force, their captain re-assigns the two to a resurrected 1980’s secret undercover police unit where fresh young-looking officers infiltrate the high schools to prevent drug busts from spreading around. The location was 21 Jump Street.
On the first day, Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) introduced the boys to their first assignment. A local teen get their first exposure to a synthetic drug known as HFS. Tragically, he was found dead after the video was posted on YouTube. Now Jenko and Schmidt are sent back to high school as brothers to trace the synthetic drug to its source. This mission proves to be more challenging as Jenko & Schmidt encounter a bit of a culture shock as they try to fit into High School, circa 2012.
While this new 21 Jump Street falls into the re-imagined genre of movies, this Street takes on a life of its own as it’s surprisingly fresh and full of excitement. Co-directors Phil Lord & Christopher Miller boost the tempo to give Street a face pace, hanging on the edge of seat thrill ride filled with the craziness of being a teenager. While many of the audience might be too young to remember the Fox TV Series that brought Johnny Depp sudden fame, the co-directors met the challenge by creating a movie that well-executed and so funny by getting a laugh from Jenko and Schmidt trying to figure out what today’s kids consider cool. Jenko who was the popular jock in his high school days, now hangs with the nerds and discovers how valuable they can be to the world. The geeky Schmidt suddenly gets his first taste of climbing the popularity ladder, even attracting the attention of budding actress Molly (Brie Larson).
The action-comedy has it all: a shootout, the end all teen house party, the shootouts and crazy adventures of two buddies reliving and surviving high school once again. While some of the violence was necessary to balance the comedy, there were times where it was a bit pointless. Be on the lookout for Hill & Tatum experience an ultimate drug trip during school that has Far Out written all over it. The visuals during their trip was not only visually stunning but totally hilarious.
The odd pairing of Hill and Tatum was a little strange to take at first. Once you get into the film, you see that they play off of each other surprisingly well. Since Street is set around high school life, you can expect the raunchy humor but the overall humor is balanced by an anything goes attitude from the cast and a clever script. The best thing about this odd couple is that they both play the straight man and the comedic sidekick in the best yet funny way. Ice Cube’s portrayal of Captain Dickson provides some funny moments to Jenko and Schmidt. He even admits that he could be seen as the “angry Black Captain” of his department. You could see a hint of N.W.A just bursting out his shell. The icing on the cake is the cameos by Jump Street alum Holly Robinson-Peete (Sgt. Judy Hoffs) & Johnny Depp (Officer Tom Hanson).
Street is a movie where you know you can laugh with it, not at it. Instead of remaking or reimagine our beloved TV series, the directors made a good call by creating a new 21st Jump Street for today’s audiences. This is what a “remake” should be. You honor the original creation and make it fresh that you can bring a new generation to find out what they missed. Abrams did it with Star Trek and Lord & Miller followed suit. If I you were, I’d jump on the badwagon this weekend by seeing Jump Street – the laugh out loud comedy of the season.
FINAL GRADE: B