Monday, 13 August 2012
21 Jump Street
When I first came to know that (yet) another old TV show is dusted off for a big-screen adaptation, I wasn't that excited at all. After all, that show happens to be the once-popular 21 Jump Street which starred then-young Johnny Depp who became a star here before he gradually earned his distinctive reputation in the Hollywood cinema. Back then, the story about an undercover police unit composed of young-looking officers specializing in youth crime is refreshingly new. But now, it's seriously a worn-out cliché. Then there's the casting of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum -- oh, wait -- Channing Tatum does a comedy? I smell an immediate recipe for disaster here, but directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord's (2009's CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS) live-action debut here seriously caught me by surprise . For all those naysayers out there, this big-screen version of 21 JUMP STREET is surprisingly funny and very entertaining as well.
Like the TV show, the movie revolves around Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum), two young-looking cops who both transferred to the 21 Jump Street division where they will be going undercover posing as students to infiltrate the drugs-dealing business that has been going on at a local high school. Both of them go by their names of Doug and Brad, and once there, they must find way to investigate the rampant use of a dangerous hallucinogenic called H.F.S. Their first lead is a dealer and classmate Eric (Dave Franco), whom they are trying to get close with, in hope that one day he will lead them to the mysterious supplier.
Story-wise, Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill's screenplay is actually nothing new at all. But what makes it refreshingly different than most like-minded script out there is the way how the execution is played out in such a hilarious manner. While there are times the script is trying too hard to be funny, rest assured most of the scenes never fail to elicit some genuine laughs. Thanks to the hard R-rating, Bacall and Jonah Hill let the story rip with all those colorful profanities like nobody's business. Added to that, is some of the worthwhile self-parody gags throughout the movie, especially the highway car chase scene involving the theory of exploding vehicles.
Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller knows well how to keep the pace as entertaining as possible, while the cast here are no doubt the main star attraction here. Jonah Hill proves once again he's one of the genuine comic talents working today, but it was Channing Tatum who totally hits the ballpark with his surprisingly hilarious performance. Personally, I always thought Tatum's acting skill is always wooden at any given genre he's been involving so far (action, drama, romance) but he's finally proved himself as an excellent performer. In fact, both he and Jonah Hill are terrific together. And that's not all -- the rest of the supporting cast are equally playful and memorable as well, including Brie Larson as love interest Molly and Ice Cube at his profane best as Captain Dickson.
Apart from a flair of comedy, Phil Lord and Chris Miller does show some genuine talents in term of delivering well-crafted action sequence. Case in point is the aforementioned highway car chase scene and the violent shootout finale. Overall, 21 JUMP STREET is one of the best action comedy movies really need to be checked out for. And while you're at it, there's a surprise cameo appearance (priceless, indeed) throughout the movie.