Saturday, April 12, 2014

21 Jump Street

Remember several blogs back when I covered Wrestlemania XVIII? I made the trek down to Miami just over two years ago to meet up with my friend Alex. My flight arrived a bit later in the evening, so after grabbing a bite, we checked the listing of a nearby super-duper plex to see what was playing and reluctantly went to see the film this blog is about today, 21 Jump Street (trailer).

I have never seen any of the original tv series' episodes that was the launch pad for Johnny Depp. I was aware of the series, and it seemed like it could be potentially interesting, but it was just never on my must see list. I can say the same for this film, with the only reason going to see it was because it was one of the few movies that had a last showing in the night I was semi-interested in. The two main stars of the film were a big reason I went in fairly skeptical. In 2012, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum seemed like flash in the pan actors trying to stretch out their final waves of stardom. I guess I will say now in the past two years both actors have managed to stay relevant enough that it appears they will be in the Hollywood limelight for years to come, for better or worse.

Enough prefacing, if you were not familiar with the tv series from the 80s, 21 Jump Street is a remake of that concept, where Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) start off in a late 90s/early 00s flashback as high school rivals. Jenko is the predictable jock who bullies on Schmidt, who has an Eminem tribute bleach hair job and a SICK necklace. Fast forward several years and the two meet in the police academy and become BFFs. Upon graduating they screw up their first bust in epic fashion and are given orders from their new chief (Ice T) to go undercover in high school to try and stop an underground synthetic drug ring.

I think part of the reason this movie won me over was I never got the feeling that Hill and Tatum went into this as Hollywood big shots, and the film portrayed both of them as gigantic dorks riffing on each other throughout. Things just clicked right for me, and I could not help but chuckle as the two mistake their covers and Jenko actually gets along with chemist geeks he is assigned with and embraces all kinds of unique science experiments while Schmidt somehow finds a way to fit in with the cool kids to become the dream slim shady jock he always wanted to be. Naturally, not everything goes according to plan, and things get legitimately interesting when conflict presents itself later on. I was also a fan of some of the little gags they had running throughout the film, where Jenko and Schmidt consistently fail at dealing out huge explosions in the most likely of scenarios, and the way they portray people tripping out on synthetic drugs.

I cannot comment too much on the extra features on this film because I picked up the DVD when I caught it on sale one week, and it is pretty slim pickings here when it comes to extras as Sony has a habit of packing their BluRay releases with more extras instead. That said, I was still surprised to find several minutes of deleted scenes, and another several minute in length feature that is filled half with random behind-the-scenes shots of the craziness that transpires on location, and a few sparse interview clips with the cast and crew.

When I popped this in again a few days ago with a couple friends over who both had not seen it, I knew it would be the ultimate test. One of these friends absolutely detested Tatum, but by the end while I would say the film probably did not completely win them over, both friends seemed to enjoy it more than they thought they would. I am going to say again this is most likely because 21 Jump Street portrays both Tatum and Hill as complete idiot losers after seeing them plastered all over Hollywood in the few years preceding. I guess I could not help but take solace in seeing the two make fools of each other through this as a result. Not all the jokes and bits hit big here, but enough of them do that I give this a hearty thumbs up, and yes I will probably be there on opening weekend when the sequel, 22 Jump Street hits later this year.

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

Captain America: The First Avenger

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