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June 26, 2012

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On DVD/Blu-ray – Review: 21 Jump Street (2012)

by NIR SHALEV

Based on the 1980s TV series of the same name, 21 Jump Street follows a couple of guys who find work as police officers after graduating from high school. Schmidt (Jonah Hill), previously a nerd, and Jenko (Channing Tatum), previously a jock, meet one another in the training academy. Now that they’ve grown up and older, they hit it off and decide on becoming friends. They help each other to graduate, as Schmidt helps Janek with the studying and Janek helps Schmidt with the physical tests. However, as police officers equipped with holstered pistols and bicycles they are so inept that they’re transferred to a secret location for a secret job.

Their new office, located inside a Korean church at 21 Jump St., is the base of operations for police officers who look young enough to infiltrate high schools as students and bust drug dealers. Word on the street is that a new drug has come on the scene and become popular with youths; many high schoolers actually go on Youtube and display the effects. It’s also fatal so the film isn’t entirely devoid of seriousness.

The universe depicted within the film looks glossy, colorful, and belonging specifically to Hollywood and its cliques, but the dialogue and sharp humor poke fun and deliver terrific satire of the “evolution” of the high school; currently known as the downfall of the school system. When seeing the school that’s depicted at the start of the film I was reminded of my time in high school during the mid to late 1990s. The filmmakers and screenwriters perform a remarkable reconstruction. The clothing style, the music, the haircuts, etc. Fast-forward to the present and the cliques that continually dominate and destroy individuality are growing and are becoming far weirder, stylistically. As Schmidt and Janek walk through their school’s parking lot they take notice of the different groups of people and are unable to recognize some of them and what they try to be. It’s pretty funny and it’s entirely true.

21 Jump Street’s humor also tackles action movie cliches. Somewhere during the second half a car chase ensues and undercover cops Schmidt and Janek take flight. During the chase a gasoline truck is shot at several times… but then nothing happens. The truck is pulled over to the side of the road by its driver and the car chase continues. Either Schmidt of Janek then says, “Wow! I really thought that that truck was gonna blow up! I’m now seriously disappointed!” Later in the chase, what does blow up I leave to you to discover.

It’s jokes like that that make 21 Jump Street a good film with a sharp script. It’s not an outstanding, mind-blowing experience but it definitely keeps one laughing throughout. Hill and Tatum’s chemistry is terrific. Ice Cube is, perhaps the best part of the film as their boss who calls himself, and I’m paraphrasing, “the black guy that yells a lot and for no good reason, but it helps set the hierarchy and tone.” While it’s never going to be mistaken for a documentary on undercover cops infiltrating high schools to stop drug dealing, what happens, for the most part, makes sense, and none of the performances are annoying or fall out character. Take it for what it is and enjoy it because it’s the biggest surprise hit of the year.

The DVD and Blu-ray features are an Audio Commentary, Deleted Scenes, a Gag reel, Cube-O-Rama, Back to School, Brothers in Arms, Johnny Depp on Set, The Rob Riggle Show, Peter Pan on the Freeway, and Previews. The purchase also includes a digital copy of the movie.

Other new releases this week: The Artist, Mirror Mirror, A Thousand Words, Wrath of the Titans


2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jun 26 2012

    I really wish the studio had given this a different title, because then I probably would have listened to the good reviews and gone to see it. Not that I have anything against the TV show; in fact, I was a fan back in the day. However, I don’t want to revisit it- honestly, I suspect it’s one of those shows I liked when I was a teenager that it’s much better to NOT revisit.

    There was also the fact the trailer made it look like a stupid high school comedy, but I’m generally willing to overlook an unpromising trailer since they so often are misleading.

  2. Jun 26 2012

    Not only had I not watched this film’s trailer (one on my best qualities is not watching trailers – for the most part) but I hadn’t heard of the TV series until this film came around. I don’t exactly know how but 21 Jump Street, the show, had never existed for me until, roughly 6 months ago.

    That being said, and from what you wrote, Helen I won’t visit the series. I didn’t grow up with it and even if I did, it’s probably better left back in the ’80s.

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