Based loosely on the 80s TV show of the same name, 21 Jump Street concerns two idiotic cops, Morton Schimidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum), who are sent undercover to a local school to uncover the suppliers and dealers of a drug that killed a student. In a Freaky Friday style role reversal the pair goes back to school to discover that the attributes to make one popular has changed (to the shock and disgust of Greg Jenko who blames Glee for such a change). Written by Michael Bacall (Scott Pilgrim and Project X) and directed Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs) 21 Jump Street is great fun with a truck load of laughs, and 21 Jump Street is the funniest comedy since The Hangover.
Like a Romantic-comedy making an Action-comedy is notoriously difficult to do as you have balance the action and the comedy by making the comedy amusing and the action exciting otherwise the film would be problematic, though The Other Guys (to which 21 Jump Street is similar) fails to create exciting action sequences the chemistry between the two stars and the endless production line of jokes saved the film, which is slightly similar to 21 Jump Street, but the action scenes are not quite as problematic. While the comedy is better than the action (one fight scene at a party is so chaotic it’s impossible to see what is happening), the action scenes are full of so much jokes that mock the action genre that the excitement is replaced by the laughs as the film mocks explosions, leaping over car bonnets and further mocking of action movies such as the original 21 Jump Street, Lethal Weapon (look at the tagline) and Point Blank.
What makes 21 Jump Street work exquisitely well is the bromatic chemistry shared between Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, both Hill and Tatum work brilliantly together and their comic timing is perfect. Startlingly it is Channing Tatum who is the surprise star of the show delivering a quite brilliant performance, matching him is Jonah Hill and a further fine collection of excellent supporting performances from Ice Cube (embracing the stereotype of the bad tempered black captain) and Rob Roggle (as the gym teacher). There are some good jokes within the dialogue, but the film often relies on the comic timing of the performers and visual gags, all of which are mostly very, very funny.
However much of the jokes found in the dialogue contain vulgar humour, but the comic timing of the performers limits the extent of how much this brings the film down, that said it does feel that perhaps there is too much of a reliance on swearing, nob and homophobic jokes. Yet 21 Jump Street is consistently funny and entertaining, but a small romantic subplot between Morton Schimidt and Molly Tracy (Brie Larson) slows proceedings down a touch. Another issue is that the plot isn’t exactly well developed, but there are so many laughs throughout the film’s 109 minute running time it hardly matters. Unlike some comedies the laughs do not run out of stream, but are constant throughout and there is even a bit of heart in the film as the brotherly romance is a tad touching.
Superb performances, great chemistry between the stars and some terrific visual gags, 21 Jump Street may not be the most intelligent of comedies, but it is one of the most enjoyable in recent memory thanks to the directors and writer embracing stupidity and silliness with glee. Goes in overload with the ruder jokes, but 21 Jump Street is completely enjoyable; watch out for the cameos. I had blast and you will to.