During my brief time writing reviews, I have been guilty of pigeonholing actors and directors. The problem with typecasting like this is that, more often than not, you make a mistake every now and again. A perfect example of me getting it wrong recently is with Channing Tatum, whom I owe a huge apology. Perhaps the most prolific actor of 2012 yet (Haywire, The Vow and now 21 Jump Street), I’m now certain he has frequently been miscast. Comedy really is Tatum’s thing, as he shines as Jenko in 21 Jump Street.
21 Jump Street sees Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum), once from completely different cliques in high school, uniting in police academy as they realise they can work more efficiently as a team. This partnership continues as they patrol the local park together following their graduation. After Jenko fails to read a criminal his Miranda rights, the pair are enrolled into the secret Jump Street unit: an undercover operation where officers go incognito to expose illegal activities. When Jenko and Schmidt return to high school to find the supplier of a synthetic drug, they expect it to be exactly how they left it five years ago. Instead, the buddies experience something quite different to their teenage years in this surprisingly entertaining example of role reversal.
Even though I wasn’t expecting to, I really enjoyed 21 Jump Street. Directed by Peter Lord and Chris Miller, who brought us the delightful Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, they have certainly put their own animated stamp on the classic buddy movie genre. I love how the film doesn’t take itself too seriously: openly poking fun at adaptations and cliched, recycled ideas without being tedious or embarrassing. The animated comedy combined with a great cast, featuring the young talents of Brie Larson and a strangely familiar Dave Franco (James’ brother), 21 Jump Street is the perfect Friday night film: a fast paced action comedy that is easily one of the best movies currently on general release.
Something I certainly have to applaud is that 21 Jump Street has the best portrayal of drug usage possibly in cinematic history. Obviously I by no way condone the use of drugs, but again Lord and Miller’s animation background comes to the surface when it documents the differing stages of intoxication. Like a scene from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World mixed with a suitably experimental soundtrack, the variety of hallucinations include the high school coach’s head being replaced by a melting ice cream cone, a frankly delightful rendition of a Peter Pan song and an interesting take on a relay race. It’s certainly one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a while.
It would be easy to write 21 Jump Street off as a silly comedy, but it’s something much more than that. Jenko and Schmidt, even though they do some pretty stupid things at times, are genuinely likeable and charming. Not only does Tatum prove he has an excellent comedic presence, he’s also completely changed my perceptions of him. Whilst it’s something I certainly wouldn’t have said before hand; Channing Tatum’s future in the comedy genre looks incredibly promising.