21 Jump Street Review

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uring 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.



  • Dan
    March 25, 2012

    Looking forward to this film, and another fab review I must say. I typecast too, and have today I was wrong also, love Jonah Hill but thought he was comedy only, Moneyball proved me wrong, he was great in that.

    • Amy
      March 28, 2012

      Thanks very much for the comment Dan! I haven’t seen Moneyball yet but really looking forward to checking it out, it looks great. Jonah Hill is really good. He doesn’t look too great in tights in 21 Jump St though!

  • Fernando Quintero
    March 26, 2012

    Nice review. I’m glad you changed your mind abiut Channing Tatum. He was great in “A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints” as well.

    • Amy
      March 28, 2012

      Thanks very much! I’ll have to have a look at that film. I do feel really bad about judging him so harshly, everyone makes mistakes.

  • Slick Nick
    June 16, 2012

    This film was very enjoyable… it’s unusual to watch a modern Hollywood comedy, AND a film starring Tatum, and not instantly regret pressing the ‘play’ button.
    I think it succeeds down to the script, which is dynamite. Tatum himself has a long way to go to redeem himself as an actor. I don’t think it’s unfair to have written him off as crap, because aside from 21 Jump Street, all his films have been torture to watch.

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