Sunday, March 18, 2012

Down on Jump Street

  Once upon a time a fledgling network known as Fox ran an hour long drama about cops who went undercover in high school to bust car thieves, drug rings, and other domestic cases. Some of you were fans of the show while others know it simply as the show the launched Johnny Depp's career. These days Hollywood seems to be out of original ideas so they recycle old ones for a new audience. A fact that this movie even makes fun of.  Sometimes they work ala The Karate Kid and other times they are not so lucky ala Lost In Space. In the case of 21 Jump Street, they use the original idea and go the comedic route. Great move.

 Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill went to the same high school, but were not friends. Tatum did nothing but pick on Hill who looks like a chubby Eminem. Jenko (Tatum) is popular but not very smart. Schmidt (Hill) is smart but not popular. We fast forward seven years and both enter the police academy. They become friends and partners, but are given bicycle patrol duty. They bust a couple of drug dealers, but fail to read the Miranda warning when Jenko cannot remember it. They are transferred to the revised Jump Street program under the guidance of Ice Cube.

 They go under cover as brothers, move in with Hill's parents, and try to blend in as modern high school kids. Tatum who used to be popular, is all of the sudden not and Hill now fits in better than he used to. The principal mixes them up and Tatum becomes the science nerd while Hill gets in the cool kids. They quickly track down the dealer of a new designer drug, but have difficulty finding the supplier. Hill quickly adjusts to his under cover role while Tatum struggles with not being the cool one. They throw a party, learn to accept their new roles, face expulsion, and track down the bad guys.

 The comedy is at times great. I laughed out loud. This version of 21 Jump Street is cast very well. I personally don't think that I will ever forgive Channing Tatum for G.I. Joe, but in this type of role he works. He and Jonah Hill have great comedic chemistry. Ice Cube works as the Captain and Rob Riggle is very entertaining. He has done well for himself since Step Brothers and The Hangover. James Franco's little brother Dave is the Eco-friendly juvenile villain and works well. The party scenes are fantastic and car chase is entertaining. Comedy was the right call.

 Do they acknowledge the originals? Yes and very well. Holly Robinson Peete cameos as Judy Hoffs in the police impound yard. I had heard rumors that Depp filmed a cameo and am happy to say that those rumors were true. He and Peter Deluise reprise their respective rolls of Tom Hanson and Doug Penhall. I was impressed because it was certainly not something that Depp needed to do. His career seems to being doing just fine. 21 Jump Street was surprisingly good. It does a good job of putting a different spin on what some would call a classic series. It's not one for the kids , but an adult comedy in March isn't always a bad thing. If the movie does well and the sequel is green lit, do we get a Richard Grieco cameo?

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