with Laura Weaser
21 Jump Street. Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Out now in cinemas.
Motorway explosions, car chases, sliding across your bonnet because you are too cool to walk around your car – sounds like a sequence from any Michael Bay movie.
Instead 21 Jump Street pokes fun at everything from action movie clichés, 2000s bad fashion choices and the original series on which it was based.
The original TV series 21 Jump Street was a hard-hitting crime drama, catching crime of drugs, alcohol, sex, and abuse all the while teaching teens important moral lessons for five seasons and making Johnny Depp a big star.
The new movie 21 Jump Street is a wild, comedy ride through American high-school, filled with in-jokes, action spoofs, jokes about Channing Tatum’s hotness and a few celeb cameos along the way.
In 2005, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) was your typical ‘nerd’ struggling with everyday high school life.
Jenko (Channing Tatum), track king and handsome man, was your clichéd ‘big, dumb, jock’.
Flash forward to Police Academy and the pair has joined up to complement each other’s skills to get each other through the training.
After failing at their first big break, the pair is assigned to 21 Jump Street – undercover assignment that puts them in high school because they look like young – to bust a drug ring supplying synthetic and deadly products to high school students.
Welcome to the Y generation high-school – from the flashy introduction, use of YouTube, Smartphones, and enviro-friendly modes of transport, 21 Jump Street lifts the cult ‘80s classic straight to the 21st Century.
Littered with hundreds of in-jokes and throw backs to the original series, the film is pure comedy – making fun of the high-school stereotypes, subverting expectations and drawing attention to the fact that there is no way two 30 something guys look anything like high-school students (ironically, none of the cast are actually the age of high school students).
What makes this film so funny is the real dynamic between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum.
Too bad ass? Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum suit up for the bust.
Hill, the stronger carrier of awkward comedy since his breakthrough in Superbad, is definitely not hogging the spotlight this time around.
Maybe it’s because he has famously shed a few pounds, or maybe he is trying to leave the high school nerd comedy behind him in favour of more ‘serious’ roles, but his role as Schmidt is not a stand-along comedy act and the best moments come from his interaction with Tatum. That said, nothing is funnier than breaking an awkward ‘lean in for the kiss’ moment than saying ‘put her there’ and shaking your high school crush’s hand.
Tatum, post-boy pin up since breakdancing his gorgeous white-trash abs into my heart in Step Up (pre- 3D failures), has never struck me as much of a comedian.
Leaving Step Up handsomeness behind for recent heartstring pullers The Vow and Dear John (vomit), he seemed to be relying on his good looks and charm (you would too). However, I genuinely think Tatum is the funniest lead.
Perhaps it is because it surprised me, but he has some classic one-liners and is not afraid to put himself in the most ridiculous situations, particularly after experiencing some funky side effects to the synthetic drug.
Together, like the ying-yang relationship that characters share, these two epitomise the jock and the nerd stereotype through their acting, joining forces like their characters to carry a simple story filled with hilarious exchanges.
Surrounding the two leads is a solid cast of comedy faces you would expect to appear.
Former rapper-turned-family man Ice Cube pops up swearing and cussing as Captain Dickson, head of Jump Street, Saturday Night Live regular Rob Riggle as the sleaze guy teacher, and Bridesmaid Ellie Kemper gets a good perve of Channing Tatum’s ass as the chemistry teacher.
Also look out for two hilarious cameos (spoiler permitting I can’t share).
In true R16 comedy fashion, high-school antics means sex, drugs and lots of swearing but it also means some really solid insults that will become infectiously catchy.
Whether it’s Jenko forgetting the Miranda rights and telling the perpetrator he has the right to “suck my dick”, or Schmidt dressing up as Peter Pan by one error after another, every scene is well-written and laugh out loud funny, proving you can one-up your source material.