Director: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Dave Franco
It's 2005 and the rapping styles of Eminem are loud and present making a statement for the high school life. Schmidt (Hill) is an overweight, bleached hair, braces-wearing nerd who can't seem to catch a break. Jenko (Tatum) is your average jock that is short a few brain cells. Schmidt tends to be the target of side sneers and looks from Jenko. Let's fast forward to present day. Schmidt and Jenko recognize each other as they sign up for police academy. They have grown up and no longer hold grudges against each other. They decide to team up and coach each other throughout the training process. Jenko will help Schmidt with the fitness portions, while Schmidt will tutor Jenko with the academic tests. They both pass the training academy and think they will become big time cops. Their big time attitude is quickly deflated as they become your average set of park patrols riding around on bicycles. During a routine ride around the park, they notice some ZZ-Top looking biker dudes smoking some marijuana. They are pumped to finally bust some guys and make their big arrest. Schmidt finds some cocaine on them as well, and the bikers flee the scene. A funny chase sequence leads to the arrest of one of the bikers only to be thrown out as the guys forget to read him his Miranda Rights.
Jenko doesn’t even know the Miranda Rights as proven by the meeting with their chief officer (Nick Offerman). Schmidt and Jenko have been given a new assignment. They must report to an abandoned church at 21 Jump Street to get the details of their undercover mission. No-nonsense Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) is in charge of a team that must uncover the supplier in a high school synthetic drug ring. Schmidt and Jenko are told they will be living as brothers and going back to high school to track down the dealers and suppliers of this acid-like drug. They have been given new identities, class schedules, and extra-curricular activities to participate in as a way to blend in. Schmidt has trepidations as he did not have the best high school experience. Jenko discovers what was cool and hip in 2005 is no longer the fad. Apparently wearing your backpack on one shoulder is SO 2005. Their fake identities end up getting mixed up. Jenko needs to pretend to be the science nerd, while Schmidt has to partake in the drama club. The drug is very popular and Schmidt gets the lead pretty earlier on who the dealer is. He becomes friends with the dealer and gets in with his crowd all the while trying to hone in on who the supplier is and not blow their cover.
Loosely inspired by the late ‘80s TV show, 21 Jump Street is one of the best comedies of 2012. Granted, it’s only March but I think it will be remembered as one of the funnier movies of 2012 overall. Jonah Hill and Michael Bacall came up with the story and Bacall wrote the screenplay. I am sure there was plenty of improvisation as well. While the idea of undercover cops and action/comedies is nothing new, the humor seems fresh and downright hysterical. The actors have no fear with going to the extreme to get the laugh. I don’t mean to say that they are desperately trying to be funny. They know how to play some laughs over-the-top but not too far that it reaches obnoxiousness. It has been a great year for Channing Tatum. He’s already had three diverse movies come out and Magic Mike comes out later this year. He is proving to be far more versatile than the romantic hero that he has played before. He has great comedic chemistry with Hill and they know how to play off each other. **SPOILER ALERT** They left the audience with an ending that hints at a sequel. I HATE when movies do that. The Hangover Part 2 is a prime example of a comedy sequel that literally used the exact same formula and premise and was not funny the second time around. Look for cameos from some of the actors from the TV show including Johnny Depp!
RATING: **** (4 out of 5)