Movie Review: 21 Jump Street (2012)

“Did you just say you have the right to be an attorney?”

Every year Hollywood makes the same movie. We get a high school comedy, in which our protagonists for some inexplicable reason look like their forty-years old. So why not embrace that insanity? And while we walk down that path add a boat load of ridiculous action sequences that subvert a genre so well that we haven’t seen since Hot Fuzz.

I know I set the bar high a moment ago, but I believe the comparison is apt. The process of my love for this film has taken the same twists and turns as it did when I first encountered Hot Fuzz. I didn’t know what to think about it at first; I felt satisfied, but somehow still disappointed in some minor ways. Yes, I hoped for something that wasn’t there, I hoped that Jonah Hill would somehow manage to be someone other than that same off the cuff character, but I guess I can’t ask water to stop being wet. What made up for it (oddly enough) was how great Channing Tatum was as the dumb comedic relief.

While the film plays with the stereotype (something it says not to approximately five minutes earlier) of the short nerdy guy and the tall athletic dumb guy and lets these characters just role it isn’t really wonderful until we get to see this relationship go it’s full arc towards the end of the film.

Like Hot Fuzz the movie doesn’t quite endear itself to you until you’ve hit that third act where it stops being a passive comedy and switches into an aggressive “balls to the wall” action comedy film. Seeing the pay off of the entire joke of this unexpected partnership of two horrible police officers is what makes it all worth it. If you take the plot of Cop Out (I know, bad example) and add the fact that they have to infiltrate a drug ring in a high school and bring out all the insecurities from when they themselves were in high school, and they both haven’t quite moved on from.

Watching this basically being that time in their lives where Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) finally make that transformation from children to men is a great way to propel the comedy of these two assholes doing a lot of dumb crap just to get a job done that they have no idea of how to do. So we get to watch them bumble around as they try their best to make friends, the asshole way that one does in High School, and at times even lose themselves to their underdeveloped selves in this fantasy world of redefining their teenage experience.

I’ve alluded to it, but I can’t express any more about how crucial and great the last few scenes of this film are. Within the span of ten minutes or so (from the beginning of Prom) Phil Lord, Chris Miller and Jonah Hill (writer) are able to squeeze in so much narrative, physical and spontaneous comedy that it almost makes me worry for the sake of other films coming out this year.

While I’ve spent the last 500 plus words describing vaguely why I love this movie it doesn’t come without its own issues. While I adore the final set of sequences and I do believe it makes the rest of the film worth it, that’s just another way of saying that there were a lot of problems with the previous hour and a half of movie I had to sit through to get to the good stuff. This isn’t always a bad thing, but at the same it isn’t a great thing either. I felt like Lord and Miller could’ve done well to have tightened the film a bit more, remove a lot of the repeated gags and doing their best to reduce the annoying nature of any character that Dave Franco plays.

Rating: 6.5/10