“21 Jump Street” – They’re too old for this shift.

So when did Tanning Chatum or whatever get funny? I saw this movie last night and it was absolutely hysterical. The fact that Jonah Hill had been trying for about five years to get this movie funded, scripted, and finally made really paid off for him. A great cast with some die-from-laughter dialogue blows some of the other recent comedies out of the water completely. And I’ve never even seen the show!

When I sat down to watch this I figured it was going to be a remake of the show compacted into an hour and a half movie. And replacing Johnny Depp with Jonah Hill, which seemed a bit unfair. But having never seen the original before, I didn’t really have a clue what the story was about anyway. Normally I’d say that I’m glad I went in with really low expectations because the movie was that much better. This is not the case here, because I like Jonah Hill and even Channing Tatum was pretty good in “G.I. Joe”. Thank God for whatever expectations I had, because there were very few moments where I wasn’t smiling or laughing.

So instead of being an actual remake to the original series, Hill’s version winds up being a modern day sequel. They even use this as a joke by saying that the police force is dredging up an old undercover operation from the 80’s, and hoping that nobody will notice. It’s the jokes like that which kept the whole film very fresh; lightly hinting at the outdated-ness of the original series while basically running through the same scenarios. The film immediately pairs Hill and Tatum together, first showing them as rivals in high school (Tatum being the jock and Hill the Eminem looking nerd), and then flashing forward seven years to when they both graduate the Police Academy and are best buds. During their first drug bust as bike cops, they forget to read the perp his Miranda Rights and are therefore punished by the captain. Their punishment? Sent down to work undercover, on 21 Jump Street.

“Where do we report to?”
“Down on Jump Street. 37 Jump Street… wait, that doesn’t sound right.”

Their first (and really only) assignment is to infiltrate the same high school they both went to seven years ago, and uncover a drug ring that recently got a student killed. It’s a new synthetic drug called HFS; I’ll let the movie tell you why. Naturally Tatum has been enrolled in classes that involve little thinking whereas Hill is signed up for all of the smart ones, and together they’ll figure out who’s dealing and who’s supplying. But within minutes of their first day they manage to mix up their identities and are forced to begin attending each other’s courses. This is actually what I liked most about the film, as I was just expecting it to be a montage of “hilarity ensues”, with both characters feeling extremely out of place to the point that they decide they need another course of action. Luckily the movie and script played off this and turned it into a major plot push, basically giving Hill a second chance at being cool in school, and Tatum the opportunity to learn what he was too busy ignoring the first time around. This winds up causing issues while they’re undercover and the plot develops very well because of it. And for once, a movie did a pretty good job describing what it’s like to be a high school student, especially when people start calling out Tatum for clearly being way too old for school.

It really is a great ride, from start to finish and if you aren’t laughing the whole way through then it’s probably time to find a new genre. Props to Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum for both being a part of this movie, and especially to Hill for pursuing it as a project for so long. Every year the discussion comes up of, “Should there be an Oscar for comedies?” and I definitely think that “21 Jump Street” deserves a nomination.

We’re like, in the end of “Die Hard” right now, only it’s our actual life!

DIRECTOR’S CUT: If you haven’t gathered it yet, I clearly enjoyed this movie. Definitely see it whether you’re a fan of the original or not. Everything is great, even Rob Riggle, and I generally don’t like him at all.

FLICKCHART RATING: 192/1888

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