Directors: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
The film industry is a fickle mistress. It teases us by being bereft of ideas and churning out the same old nonsense again and again. And just when we think we’re ready to give up on it all it goes and does something really good that makes us want to stay. Make no mistake: “21 Jump Street” should not work. Based on a cult TV show of the ’80s, it looks like a lazy comedy made with the minimum of effort. I still can’t fathom how it turned out to be brilliant.
Schmidt (Jonah Hill) is your typical high school nerd and Jenko (Channing Tatum) your typical jock. When they find themselves at Police Academy (no, not that one) they decide that becoming friends will help them get through training and they graduate as the best of buddies. After a bust goes wrong they are sent to 21 Jump Street – a place for officers who will go undercover. Due to their youthful looks Schmidt and Jenko are sent to a school rife with drugs where they must pose as students. But as they try and do their jobs to find the drug dealers and suppliers, they find that the temptation to undo the mistakes of their real school years too difficult to resist.
This is just really funny with a script that ranges from the sharp and witty to the really rude. The blend of the clever and the juvenile works well (and in some ways reflects Tatum and Hill’s relationship in the film) and it’s just non-stop laughs and action. Hill and Tatum make for a brilliant and sympathetic pairing whilst the supporting acts (including a couple of surprises on the way) have a lot of fun.
The film’s knowing tone and sense of anarchy are a joy to behold and this is an adaptation that actually works. Wonders never cease.