21 Jump Street (2012) – Review

2 1/2 Stars


I suspect ones enjoyment of 21 Jump Street, will depend on how far removed from high school, you may be. Those familiar with the 1980s television series may find this comedy less amusing than those born after the show’s cancelation. It stars two likable, yet bland leads in Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. They are cast here as partners on a police force that doesn’t seem to have much use for them. Because of their youthful appearance, the duo is handpicked to go undercover and pose as students. It seems that a new, and deadly designer drug has hit the market. The task force on the case has pinpointed a central high-school as the source. The operation is run by a loud, overbearing captain, played by Ice Cube. He instructs Schmidt and Jenko to infiltrate the dealers and find the suppliers.

At this point 21 Jump Street morphs into a self-deprecating teenage high-school comedy, complete with a big finale at prom. I liked the scenes dealing with new-age youth culture. Tatum and Hill are only 23, yet they seem befuddled by the social structure and acceptable behavior amongst teenagers today. The performances are surprising, I think Jonah Hill is growing on me. I cannot count myself amongst the legions of fans who hailed Superbad as the greatest comedy in the last five years. Here though, working as both co-screenwriter and lead, he carries the picture through a few potentially dull spots. Tatum brings a lot of energy to the roll, his fearless physical comedy and self mockery is reminiscent of a young Brad Pitt. It remains to be seen if he can break out of the romantic dramas that seem to have fueled his career thus far.

My biggest problem with the film is the sloppy action set-pieces. At times 21 Jump Street seems to be suffering from an identity crisis. The picture cannot decided if it is a teen-comedy or action flick. The result is a couple of poorly executed sequences that seem overly violent and threaten to shift the entire tone of the film on several occasions. I can’t quite recommend the film. Yet, fans of Jonah Hills’s particular style of humor, which includes one-liners and broad, unsophisticated physical comedy will find much to like. A bevy of cameos dot the film.

Director: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Stars: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum

One thought on “21 Jump Street (2012) – Review

  1. This very well may be due to the fact that I’m an 18 year old girl, but I think this movie deserves more than 2 1/2 stars based on the humor alone. There were moments when I couldn’t breathe from laughing so hard. I do agree about the action scenes though–they could have been done better. But as someone who loves both Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, I would recommend this movie.

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