Urban Cinefile
"Then I'd go to bed and lie there thinking, now what are they going to do. And I can't tell you how exciting that actually is, to be able to invent characters "  -Nick Cave, on writing The Proposition
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday July 28, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are more than ready to leave their adolescent problems behind. Joining the police force, they are assessed as being young enough to be assigned to Captain Dickson's (Ice Cube) undercover Jump Street unit. Their first job is as 'new' students at a local high school to investigate a drug ring, but it is not as easy as it may look on tv....

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Cannibals continue to roam in Hollywood (Hollowood?); their latest victim is a police procedural TV series from the 80s, in which young cops investigated crimes in high schools and colleges. Turning it into a juvenile cop comedy has been less than successful, even though there are some good lines, a few well conceived scenes and an underlying buddy movie beating heart.

Too immature and juvenile in its taste to appeal outside a narrow 18 - 24 demographic, 21 Jump Street is a cacophony of high school humour, smeared on with endless expletives and genital references (not too funny, either).

Given that I'm not in the target market, I do acknowledge that some will find it amusing for its crassness and the exploits of the two hapless gorks Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum). There are some fine comedic ideas swirling about, but they fail to overcome the laborious nature of the storytelling. Worst of all, with everything up for comedic grabs, there is no sense of reality to intrude on the story or characters - although Jonah Hill does make a reasonably tangible character out of Schmidt, an overweight, good hearted, soft centred and insecure young man with inbuilt adolescence.

Brie Larson is not cheesy as Molly (unlike most of the support cast) who sees the real Schmidt when nobody else can, but Ice Cube is not cool as Captain Dickson, an overheated characterisation. Like so much of the film, he is too loud.

There is a frantic highway chase, a high-voltage gunfight and the obligatory chaotic (loud) party; those elements plus the pimple squeezing fun of high school clashes and crushes, make 21 Jump Street the movie we had to have when the TV series should have been enough. There is also a surprise best discovered for yourself.

Review by Louise Keller:
Jumping on the bandwagon of revamping old TV shows, this big screen version of the show from the late 80s/early 90s that is mostly remembered as being a springboard for Johnny Depp's career, is a slap-dash buddy movie with a puerile streak. I never saw the TV series, so it is difficult to know whether or not the film's tone is anything like the original series, but the basic concept is the same - two youthful cops are recruited to go undercover in high school.

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum play the nerdy, bright Schmidt and the handsome, slow-witted Jenko who first meet at high-school, where they are diametrical opposites. When they meet again at Police Academy, they have more time for each other and become buddies; Schmidt helps Jenko academically, while Jenko encourages Schmidt physically. After an incompetent and failed drug-bust, the deflated duo are transferred undercover and sent back to high-school to identify the supplier and distributor of a new dangerous party drug that is spreading like wild-fire.

None of it believable, of course and Hill and Tatum have their new identities switched, with the mathematical whiz being sent to drama class and sports and the athletic dumbbell finding himself in chemistry class. The humour is pretty lame, so leave your brain at the door, but there are some funny juxtapositions - like the stretch limo chase scene and the madcap sequence in which Hill, dressed like Peter Pan and Tatum, dressed like a chemical equation are making their escape from a gang of bikies.

Ice Cube plays Captain Dickson, the self-declared black angry man in charge of the undercover agents and Dave Franco (younger brother of James, and looking just like him) is the school's drug supplier. Brie Larson is likeable as Molly, the object of Schmidt's desires who returns his feelings, but has to wait for him to pluck up the courage to follow through.

It's not funny enough, inventive enough, or entertaining enough to make a difference, but the idea that the two unlikely buddies rub off on each other positively is not all bad.

Email this article

Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 2
Mixed: 0

(US, 2012)

CAST: Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Jake M. Johnson, Lindsey Broad, Ellie Kemper, Dave Franco, Brie Larson, Ice Cube

PRODUCER: Stephen J. Cannell, Neal H. Moritz

DIRECTOR: Phil Lord and Chris Miller

SCRIPT: Michael Bacall (story by Michael Bacall, Jonah Hill; TV series by Patrick Hasburgh, Stephen J. Cannell)


EDITOR: Joel Negron

MUSIC: Mark Mothersbaugh


RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes



Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020