It will be interesting in a decade or two from now to see just how this era of film will be viewed, especially when it comes to originality. Nothing really is sacred, so it’s anyone’s guess what remake will come down the pipeline, but what saddens is the fact that anything one can imagine right now can essentially be created on screen, and all we keep getting are high definition rehashes of movies or TV shows of an era we obviously miss. But is it those properties we miss? Or is it that wondrous fertile period where everyone seemed to be getting it right: the 80s.
News of a film adaptation of 21 Jump Street, one of the dozens of TV hits 80s mega-producer Steven J. Cannell made back in the day, has been around for years. When it was announced that it would involve new comedy it kid Jonah Hill and rising stud Channing Tatum, this reviewer barely conjured a yawn. So many of these things come out year by year with nothing more than a whimper, despite producers spending more time writing their BS explanations for nothing more than a cash in than they do making a decent film. The A-Team was mediocre, despite some hefty talent behind, and this could be applied to most of these endeavours.
As a kid who grew up watching Johnny Depp, Holly Robinson, Peter DeLuise and co, perhaps it should have interested me. But we’ve all been burned before, haven’t we? I heard all the same crap about ‘honouring the source material’ and ‘making it fresh for a new generation’, and it did nothing to enthuse.
Well colour me surprised that this one, despite my prejudice about remakes, became a fun night at the movies. Hill and Tatum play two former high school adversaries, now rookie cops, who, after a disastrous first day on the job, are reassigned to the 21 Jump Street division to infiltrate a high school rife with drugs. The two end up in a sort of role reversal, with the former nerd becoming cool and the former jock becoming the social pariah. As they deal with their past, and try with white knuckles to maintain their present, the investigation goes from one disaster to another.
This film uses the 21 Jump Street name, but apart from a few nods and a couple of cameos, this is a whole new ball of wax. Forget the dramatic centrepiece of the show; this film puts comedy front and centre. What amazes is that they also manage not to tread on hallowed ground, so to speak, despite a completely different tone and time to the original, setting this in the same universe but 20 years later with different characters. They don’t redo anything from the original, save stealing the show’s central premise: cops who look like high school kids.
The story has a heavier focus on character than plot, so the mystery they set out to solve isn’t the greatest, but the two leads are engaging enough to breezily get you all the way through, without looking at your watch. Tatum especially surprises with his sense of comedic timing. The villain department isn’t the greatest: something they could improve on in the next one (and there will be a next one, after the box office receipts). Jonah Hill combines his usual shtick with a little extra depth, something he’s showed a lot more of in the last couple of years.
This is not a massive action movie, by any stretch, but the few set pieces within the flick show off an ample budget. It’s a slick looking production, with effective rapid-fire editing, that, like nearly every element in this picture, just comes together magically.
Kudos, in the remake epidemic, to those who embraced their commercial responsibilities, but didn’t half-ass it. This may be subject to the realities of a very sterile period of imagination in Hollywood, but has impressively risen above it. It is a great, fun movie, and even for the most fatigued with remakes, well worth your time.
MPAA Rating: R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, drug material, teen drinking and some violence.
Director: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Writer: Michael Bacall
Cast: Jonah Hill; Channing Tatum; Dave Franco; Rob Riggle; Brie Larson; Ice Cube
Tagline: They're too old for this shift.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I think I crapped my pants."
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Official Site: www.21jumpstreet-movie.com
Release Date: March 16, 2012
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: June 26, 2012.
Synopsis: In the action-comedy 21 Jump Street, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are more than ready to leave their adolescent problems behind. Joining the police force and the secret Jump Street unit, they use their youthful appearances to go undercover in a local high school. As they trade in their guns and badges for backpacks, Schmidt and Jenko risk their lives to investigate a violent and dangerous drug ring. But they find that high school is nothing like they left it just a few years earlier – and neither expects that they will have to confront the terror and anxiety of being a teenager again and all the issues they thought they had left behind.
Available on Blu-ray - June 26, 2012
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Indonesian, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Thai
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Thai: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); UV digital copy
The MPEG-4 AVC 1080p picture is kinda muted a little; what should register as extremely bright looks like it has had some of the glare taken away. It’s still up there with its contemporaries, with flawless detail, natural colours; it was just noticeable to this reviewer that bright daylight scenes seemed to be through some subtle veil. Sound, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix is as good as it gets; your system will sweat from the workout. Extras are okay; there’s a lively commentary with the two stars and a couple of others, some brief tid-bit featurettes, and about half and about hour of deleted scenes.
- Supplied by directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller and stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum.
- Deleted Scenes (30 min)
- Gag Reel (5 min)
- Cube-O-Rama (2 min)
- Back to School (8 min)
- Brothers in Arms (6 min)
- Johnny Depp on Set (4 min)
- The Rob Riggle Show (9 min)
- Peter Pan on the Freeway (4 min)