Movie Review: ’21 Jump Street’ Comeback of Buddy-Cop Comedy

Zach Smithson March 20, 2012 0
Movie Review: ’21 Jump Street’ Comeback of Buddy-Cop Comedy
  • Plot
  • Comedy
  • Cast
  • Lasting Appeal
Director: Phil Lord, Chris Miller 
Producer: Stephen J. Cannell 
Writers: Michael Bacall, Jonah Hill
Actors: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum 
Cinematography: Barry Peterson
Music: Mark Mothersbaugh 
Editing: Joel Negron


Thankfully, 21 Jump Street is a breath of fresh air.  It revamps something from the 80′s, and then immediately turns around and makes fun of itself for doing so. It takes every advantage of each second to keep you laughing. It doesn’t try too hard to do anything innovative or complicated. But it does everything in its power to be the funniest movie possible.

I went into this movie very skeptical. Jonah Hill is incredibly hit and miss for me, and up until now, Channing Tatum has seemed emotionless and a little bit douchey. Believe it or not, this movie is the best I have seen from both of them. They both connect so genuinely that you really believe that they are best friends. Jonah Hill spouts off jokes as memorable as when he was in Superbad, and Channing Tatum shows so much charisma, he almost outshines Hill comedically.

The movie starts by introducing the characters in 2005. Jonah Hill plays Schmidt, a dorky, girl shy Slim-Shady wannabe with braces in high school. Channing Tatum plays Jenko, the school jock/douche/bully. Naturally, with such polarized roles, they are not friends. Schmidt gets picked on by Jenko frequently and nicknames Schmidt “not so Slim Shady”.

Cut to seven years later and the two are entering police training. Jenko is a hot shot, but can’t learn any of the book work. Schmidt is a klutz, but is an ace when it comes to their tests. They decide to help each other out and their friendship develops throughout their training. As the two help each other and move through training they continue to get better and better. Eventually, it gets to their graduation and they stand side by side, proclaiming their badassery. Cut to them later, as bike cops, patrolling the local park.  This quick jumping is used frequently throughout the film and it helps to really drive home the punch line after all of their comedic scenes.

This picture above serves as one of the first areas of the film where the laughs don’t stop. Both are frustrated at their lack of power, and expected more from being a cop. The laughs come from the two playing around the park, not caring about the pedestrians’ problems, and just generally goofing off on the job all day. This makes it funnier when they actually have to stop someone, which goes a bit overboard.

The true star of the film is the chemistry between Hill and Tatum.  Their antics and friendship is incredibly effortless, so much so that there is almost never a time in the movie where the two are not side by side. They seemed so connected as friends that the few scenes where they were apart from each other felt odd.

After seeing their outrageous attempts to stop the criminals, they get recruited by Captain Dickson (Ice Cube). An outspokenly “stereotypical, angry, black captain”. He informs them that they need to go undercover to stop a new synthetic drug that is becoming incredibly popular in a local high school. To do this, they have to become high school students and fit in with the regular students.

High school has changed drastically since they were in school. Roles have reversed for the two as Schmidt’s geekiness is liked, and Jenko’s buff tough-guy routine is looked down upon.They end up making their way to small-time dealer, Eric (Dave Franco).  Out of trust, the two are forced to try some of the new product right in front of him. The next few scenes I wouldn’t dare giving away because I genuinely cried laughing, and that never happens for me. After they take the drugs, what happens next has to go down in history as one of the best tripping scenes in all of Hollywood.  The whole theater I was in was gasping for air through the constant barrage of hilarity.

From here on it’s your typical high school comedy. Class clowning and trashing public things. Crazy parties with crazy amounts of drugs and alcohol. This was one of the funniest parts of the film because unlike other high school parties, they are older than 21 and they can buy all the alcohol they can afford. Plus, they’re police officers, so they have keys to evidence lockers with all the weed they could ever need to party.

The pacing of 21 Jump Street is perfect.  It truly focuses on the comedy of the film among all other things. Too often comedies add too much filler and you leave the film with just a hand full of laughs. I don’t think there was a single sentence throughout the film that wasn’t a punchline or a lead-up. The movie never really lets you relax. The audience is constantly being thrown new material to laugh at. There are times though, where the film takes every opportunity it has on screen to make you laugh. There will be scenes that constantly barrage you with humor, it’s almost as if I needed to pause and take a break to compose myself. The camera angles, the acting, the pacing, everything comes together to create an incredible comedy. 21 Jump Street is a film that will last as a comedy classic for me, and one to instantly break out when I have some friends over for a few drinks.