21 Jump Street is hilarious; it could possibly be the funniest movie I’ve seen all year. I truly wanted to hate the film and write a scathing review about Channing Tatum’s terrible acting; I can’t think of a single thing he’s done that hasn’t majorly sucked. Although I don’t trust my sense of humor completely, the collective sound of every single person laughing in the movie theater reaffirmed my suspicion that the movie was truly funny. Most importantly, director duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller made the perfect decision to stick with an R rating, bringing what could have been a potentially boring movie into a whole new level.
The film is predictable; there are no moments that leave you bewildered. Recently initiated police officers Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) have been transferred to the newly reinstated division on 21 Jump Street. Captain Dickson (a delightfully angry Ice Cube) reveals that their division specializes in infiltrating high schools by using undercover cops. Schmidt and Jenko’s youthful faces are perfect for the job. After receiving their new identities as brothers, they are enrolled in the same high-school they attended as angsty teenagers. This brings back very different memories for each officer. Schmidt, an ex-wannabe-Eminem nerd, barely survived high school. Jenko, the king jock, had the opposite experience. Their mission is to “infiltrate the dealers, find the supplier,” and ultimately stop the distribution of a recreational drug called HFS. The only problem is that high-school social order has completely reversed with eco-conscious hipsters on the top. Of course, hilarity ensues.
One of the best scenes of the entire movie is about a crazy party the two main characters throw. Yes, of course there is a party scene; this is a high school movie. One of the writers for 21 Jump Street, Michael Bacall, co-wrote the film Project X that’s solely about an insane party, so no surprises there. After confiscating enormous quantities of marijuana from the evidence room, buying tons of alcohol and chips (because every successful party I’ve been to has involved something to munch on), the police officers throw a kick-ass party. What follows is a riotous, hysterical, jam-packed-with-action sequence of events.
The chemistry between Hill and Tatum is obvious; the friendship between the adorable and slightly stupid Schmidt and Jenko is truly believable. Hill is his usual endearing (and laughable) self, blurting out inappropriate comments at inappropriate times. The big shock comes from Tatum… he can actually act! Yes, I have experienced the dreadfulness of Dear John but Tatum certainly proves his worth by playing the lovable yet somewhat dumb jock. He definitely should stick to more comedic roles if he wants to showcase his acting chops. Finally, James Franco’s little brother Dan Franco has a major role as one of the popular kids in school and manages to pull it off beautifully as a scared kid who’s just in over his head.
The soundtrack, although by no means anything spectacular or unique, is a series of fun, fast hip-hop and rap songs, perfectly complementing the various scenes of the movie. When a teenage Schmidt walks into his high-school with bleached hair and a chain around his neck, the scene is made even more comical with “The Real Slim Shady” playing in the background.
This movie is not just another high-school comedy; it is a parody of all the ridiculous high-school clichés that are well integrated into society’s perception of high school. You are neither going to have a newfound appreciation of life nor a sudden urge to re-examine past mistakes. The trick is to expect nothing more from 21 Jump Street than you should — a very funny and amusing movie. However, you will leave the theater ten times happier and more entertained.