So, being that I was only nine-years-old during the initial run of the 21 Jump Street television series, I don’t remember it all that well. In fact, I seem to remember only a single episode with Peter DeLuise. I have no recollection of anyone else in the series let alone Johnny Depp. However, the writers of the 2012 film remake knew enough not to require that of their audience. In fact, the film stands all on its own. Perhaps the only purpose for the title tie-in is to simplify the viewing experience for the audience. Anyone with knowledge of 21 Jump Street will be able to predict the story-line. Sequels and remakes are made to guarantee an audience, the type of audience that wants to know what they’re going to get out of their entertainment in advance.
I found the trailers for this film uniquely arresting. I took full advantage of every opportunity to watch all of the previews available for this film (some multiple times), knowing full well that, while doing so, I was robbing myself of the enjoyment of seeing the scenes fresh in the theater in the context of a full film. As a life-long fan of fish-out-of-water stories and buddy cop movies, it was as if I was predisposed to enjoy this film. So, I shall make no pretense at an unbiased review.
So, by now it should be no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. What is surprising is that it managed to surpass my expectations, albeit while still remaining thoroughly locked into its established genre(s). So, notwithstanding a few minor story eccentricities, the film is rather predictable. However, that’s not to say the ride is uninteresting or forgettable. It’s a lot like your favorite roller coaster ride. Just because you’ve been on it once, that doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of subsequent rides. For 21 Jump Street, some of the enjoyment I had, came from anticipating how this film would handle the old standards; like car chases, gunfights, and explosions; we’ve come to expect from films like these. Even after having watched all of the trailers and preview clips available on the internet
21 Jump Street is directed by Chris Miller who previously directed the wonderful animated TV series Clone High and the CG-animated full-length feature Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. The story for the films come from Jonah Hill (first writing credit) and Michael Bacall who co-wrote Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. 21 Jump Street ends up feeling like a mish-mash of those films. The film is very self aware even if the characters are not, and even mockingly references Hollywood’s propensity for remakes.
Perhaps the greatest revelation of 21 Jump Street is Channing Tatum’s performance. Long maligned for his tendency to take roles in critically panned films like Supercross, Step Up, and G.I. Joe: the Rise of Cobra (among others), Tatum displays a comedic sense that I (and certainly many others) was unaware of. It was a constant delight to see him playing against type. He certainly held his own against Academy Award Nominee Jonah Hill, in his first film role since slimming down. The two make a wonderfully delightful duo that goes a long way to making the film fun and enjoyable. The rest of the performances in the film are quite good including Ice Cube, Rob Riggle, Dave Franco, and Brie Larson. The film also works-in a few cameos that would be rather gratuitous if they weren’t so perfect. In summary it’s a fun film that doesn’t take itself too seriously but features quality comedy, a stellar performance by Tatum, and quality performances by everyone else.