A pair of underachieving cops are sent back to a local high school to blend in and bring down a synthetic drug ring.
For the past few years, an adult comedy is usually made that takes everyone by surprise with how good it actually is, despite being a ridiculous comedy. The Hangover is probably the first film of this nature to come to mind. This year, 21 Jump Street came out with a less than expected duo of Jonah Hill [Superbad, Moneyball] and Channing Tatum [Step Up, Dear John], and killed it both at the box office and in reviews. It’s about time that I got around to seeing the big comedy hit of the year so far.
In 2005 Jonah Hill’s Schmidt is a Slim Shady wanna-be nerd, containing every stereotype of the word, and Channing Tatum’s Jenko is a popular jock, and as you can guess, is dumb as a rock. After high school, they both join the police department, using their own strengths to help the other’s weaknesses, and become friends. After landing on the park patrol squad and ruining a drug bust, they are assigned to an undercover division for bad, young looking officers called 21 Jump Street. They go undercover as high school students to try and find out who is supplying the students with a new, dangerous synthetic drug.
The first thing a comedy needs to do is, of course, to make us laugh. With a lot of swearing and playing on high school cliches, there are a lot of jokes that hit really well. There are also a lot of misses, but in general this movie is really funny when and where it tries to be, with some extremely quotable material. Another element that really succeeds is the supporting casting. Rob Riggle, Chris Parnell, Dave Franco, Johnny Depp, Peter DeLuise and others are all really well casted and really funny.
Now, of course most comedies will in-fact be funny. What makes a good comedy great are the other aspects like the characters and the story. 21 Jump Street’s story and characters are flat, predictable, and to be blunt: boring. The only saving grace has to be the comedic material, but with it’s hit/miss rate being barely over 50%, this film does not live up the percentage and ratings from other critics.
1.5/4 – 21 Jump Street has some really funny, quotable material. Unfortunately, it also has a lot of material that misses on a comedic level. That combined with it’s predictable, flat, and boring plot and writing makes this a just another installment in Hollywood’s failed series revives.