21 Jump Street

Movies, Action and adventure
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21 Jump Street
Jonah Hill, left, and Channing Tatum in 21 Jump Street

The nerd and the jock, the omega and the alpha: Baby-faced undercover cops Schmidt (cowriter Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) look every bit the parts they’re supposed to play, and they know it (that’s about all they know). “Embrace your stereotype!” screams Dickson (Cube), their angry black captain (his description), driving the caustic point home. This dopey dynamic duo, who can barely recite the Miranda warning, is about to get its first assignment as members of the covert law-enforcement agency that places young-looking policemen in drug-addled high schools. Haven’t we seen this somewhere before? As a revolted Krusty the Klown once opined: “Yeah. On Fox.”

So Hollywood’s remake-a-rebootanator has finally gotten around to the Tiger Beat–catering noir series that made Johnny Depp a superstar. But rather than treat the late-’80s source material as holy kitsch, the filmmakers have reconceived this tale of illegal narcotics and arrested adolescence as a viciously satirical, unapologetically crude buddy comedy. Codirectors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) have a great time tweaking conventions: a running gag involving vehicles that should explode during a car chase is particularly gut-busting. And the perfectly cast Hill and Tatum, running around like hoo-hawing frat brothers hooked up to a tequila IV, have comic energy to spare, whether spouting profane banter about AP Chemistry (“Fuck you, science!”) or wire fu fighting during a drama club performance of Peter Pan. But the longer this Abbott and Costello’s Lethal Weapon goes on, the more the fun dissipates—until a queasily violent climax, which, naturally, fully embraces genre stereotypes rather than dismantling them.

By: Keith Uhlich

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Release details

Rated: R
Release date: Friday March 16 2012
Duration: 110 mins

Cast and crew