I’m just going to get right to the point- I think 21 JUMP STREET may end up being one of the funniest movies I see all year if not THE funniest. From beginning to end I cannot remember a movie that kept me so entertained and laughing almost every second in a long long time. Some of my favorite comedies over the years combine smart writing with great performances from actors with great comedic timing and ultimately a heart that shows maturity amidst all the raunchy jokes and 21 JUMP STREET met everything I look for in a comedy and then some.
The film opens with Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) attending high school together. Jenko is a jock struggling with his grades but he’s popular- Schmidt on the other hand is a nerd with that gets shot down and embarrassed when he asks a popular girl to prom. Seven years later the two are both in the same recruiting class to join the police force- Jenko is good at the athletic stuff and Schmidt is good at the written stuff so the two join forces to make it through the training. Once on the force they prove to be less than satisfactory so their Captain transfers them to a resurrected undercover program with their new superior, Captain Dickson (Ice Cube). Dickson places them at a high school where a new synthetic drug is being spread around and threatens to go viral if the two don’t uncover the supplier. Schmidt and Jenko go and relive their high school days but the times have changed and Schmidt fits in the popular crowd while Jenko finds himself saddled in the nerd click.
From the moment the film starts and “The Real Slim Shady” kicks in over the speakers the film establishes that it is not taking itself too seriously. It becomes even more evident with every joke and gag during the opening sequences right up till the end so I could just kick bag and laugh it up. The absurd comedy is cranked up to eleven without every entering spoof territory but just ridiculous enough that it feels like somewhat of a joke on the buddy cop/teen comedy.
The anchor of the film is the relationship between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum- their comedic chemistry is pitch perfect. I can’t recall a movie that I loved the character that Tatum was playing, but his character alone was hilarious but combined with Hill it’s really something to behold. Tatum pulls off the dumb meathead and Hill takes the awkward goofball and when they are together riffing off each other I was in stitches. The rest of the cast all enhance the scenes when Tatum and Hill are apart- rather it’s Rob Riggle trading insults with the duo or Ice Cube screaming and threatening them they are all consistently hilarious.
The writing is smart and has incredible timing and at times there are moments that feel unscripted that added to the unpredictable nature of some of the comedy. There’s a sequence where Hill and Tatum are forced to take the drug they are there to snuff out that had me gasping for air that includes Tatum running rampant in a band class while Hill sings and dances his way into a Peter Pan play and then participating in a track meet. There’s even some action towards the end and the laughs don’t stop even while the duo are involved in a three limo chase sequence that ends the film on a hilarious note. Fans of the TV series will get a kick out of a cameo that I was completely unprepared for and laughed at even more. I wish I could say I knew a lot about the original series- but I can assure you that after this I will be checking it out.
I have very little to say about 21 JUMP STREET that’s all that negative apart from I was disappointed when it ended. If I had to choose one thing in particular I would say it’s predictable in terms of anticipating the eventual fallout between friends and love interests along the way and of course the triumphant patching of the friendship but even then the film finds jokes to make it something that’s not been-there-done-that.
Constant dick jokes, liberal usage of the F-bomb, sexual innuendos and situations, plus quite a bit of violence in the last half make 21 JUMP STREET far from an affair for the whole family but perfect for a night out with friends or a significant other if you’re in the mood for a boatload of laughs. The film might prove to be a bit too reliant on risqué humor and immature language for some, but the way in which the jokes are presented felt smarter and perfectly placed than I expected. Hill and Tatum make a perfect comedic duo and I would be first in line for any other film they were paired in. 21 JUMP STREET is one of the best raunchy buddy comedies to come along in recent years and likely one of the best we’ll see this year.