FILM: 21 Jump Street
RUNNING TIME: 1hr 49mins
Out Now To Rent and Buy
What is it all about?
An undercover police unit consisting of young looking officers infiltrate high schools to control youth crime.
The Hughes Verdict!
The buddy cop movie genre has died a slow death over the last decade. What was once started by Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte in the 80’s classic 48hrs was taken to a whole new level thanks to Richard Donner’s Lethal Weapon and thanks to many successful sequels and rip offs that consisted of the likes of James Woods teaming up with Michael J Fox for The Hard Way, the bubble burst in spectacular way when short of ideas, the genre ended up with Whoppi Goldberg starring alongside a trainer wearing Dinosaur in the awful (and I mean disastrous) Theodore Rex. Only Rush Hour has came out of the cycle with any credit and also the quite stunning Kiss Kiss Bang Bang which was a critical success but low box office takings put paid to any franchise being born.
21 Jump Street seems an odd choice to reinvent the formula. Taking on an old 80’s TV show and revamping it for a new generation has been seen many times over the years what with Charlie’s Angels and Miami Vice hitting the big screen, but while those titles were still fresh in the memory of a still huge fan base, 21 Jump Street has been largely forgotten by the masses, with many only remembering the fact that it starred Johnny Depp, many years before he became Jack Sparrow!
So the excitement level when this remake was announced did not actually set fans leaping for joy and I expect that the makers of this were hoping for at least some moderate success at the box office, but what they got and the genre in particular was a shot of energy not seen since Riggs met Murtaugh.
The film starts its intent right from the off and fair kudos’s to the writers who decide that laughs and not loud explosions is what will make this film stand out. We start with a flashback to when Schmidt (Jonah Hill) is loser in school who sets his image in the style of Eminem. While he wanders around school being unpopular and unlikeable, the big lump that is Jenko (Channing Tatum) is the high school jock, muscles, good-looking and very popular, the two are so miles apart that they never meet but know each other in passing! In a quick brief cap, the two become friends after attending Police Academy and unlike some films that would set this friendship over the first hour of the plot, here we see this done in a good ten minutes and before we know it, they are fully fledged police officers and partners but both not very good at their job.
With the pace set thanks to a brilliant wrong drug bust, the laughs keep coming when we see the two get told off by their sergeant. His speech of why they are being transferred to a new prescient is so tongue in cheek that it actually takes the mick out of Hollywood for recycling old ideas and to why films like 21 Jump Street should not be made! While this is being said, the camera continues to pan to the faces Hill and Tatum who play is so straight that you realise that this has the makings of being something special.
The whole set up is that 21 Jump Street is prescient where cops that look young are sent. Led by the wise arse attitude of Captain Dickson (Ice Cube), the boys are sent back to high school, to mix with the kids and discover who is selling a new designer drug that basically fucks up kids who takes them. The shock of the new generation is that the hard style and attitude of Jenko is no longer required and while he finds himself bemused and stunned, Schmidt becomes the popular guy and soon their once strong friendship is tested to the fore.
By relying on gags and not non stop action, the writers took a huge gamble but thankfully the gags are hilarious. There is one scene that is up there with the best of 2012, with the two taking the designer drugs to prove they are students and not undercover officers. What follows is a brilliant set-piece that had me laughing and instantly loving this movie.
Before action fans bemoan that this is not what Buddy cop movies are about, well there some big explosions but they too are sprinkled with wit and style that raises the entire film up a level to where it actually should. Even those who think Hill does not look like an action star will be proved right because the film itself also plays on the fact but the welcome surprise is in fact Tatum who shows a great comedy touch and was a welcome addition. Extra praise goes to the great gag that follows the words “You just shot someone!” and what happens next, no undercover copper should do.
The unexpected cameo is a welcome surprise and while the film does begin to falter towards the end (it was impossible to keep the high level of pace and gags), make no mistake, 21 Jump Street is like a fresh of breath air and after watching, you can understand the clamour of a sequel. Will that happen? Well it seems so, with everyone on board wanting to come back and thanks to this success it seems that the buddy cop formula could be rearing its head again. Lets just hope for some fresh films and not go down the path of Lethal Weapn 5: We definitely too old for this shit!……………