21 Jump Street (Columbia Pictures; 2012)“a delightful mix of teen satire and buddy-cop humour”
By Matthew Law:
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star in this comic reworking of the 1987 television series of the same name. The film brings a delightful mix of teen satire and buddy cop humour to a year that has, with the possible exception of Ted, been deprived of satisfying comedy pictures.
The film follows the exploits of two rookie policemen, who are placed undercover in a high school so that they can prevent the outbreak of a new drug that is threatening the lives of students.
Morton Schmidt (Hill) and Greg Jenko (Tatum) are the Riggs and Murtaugh of the modern age, and together they cause more mayhem than Riggs alone ever could. Hill is where most of the laughs come from, but credit must be given to Tatum, who might not seem like an ideal fit, but his ‘intellectually-slow jock’ character and tough guy antics only add to the humour in the film. Tatum seems to have found his calling in comedy. Perhaps his convincing awkward mannerisms and constant dumbstruck appearance will finally draw some of the credit it deserves.
Hill though, like in most of the films he is in, gives the standout performance. After his serious, but equally adept performance in Moneyball, Hill comes back to his roots with a performance that is reminiscent of Seth from Superbad, but with enough originality thrown in to make
Morton Schmidt a memorable comic character in his own right.
The cinematography, editing, and pacing are pretty average and consistent (though, to be fair, they don’t need to be anything special for this type of production), but the screenplay is quite exceptional. It was written by Jonah Hill and by Michael Bacall, who brought us another great comedy film in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Yes, he also wrote the travesty that was Project X, but due to the high quality of the latter two pieces of work, he can easily be forgiven. This is comedy writing of a quality equal to The Hangover or Anchorman, and, given the age of both Hill and Bacall, their relationship is one of great promise.
The end product gives viewers a variety of wonderful lines and scenes, and is up there with the likes of Step-brothers as a good film, that unfortunately will become known as much for its memorable quotes as anything else.
21 Jump Street is out on DVD now.