Thursday, May 3, 2012

21 Jump Street - Guilty Pleasure

Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) were never friends back in high school. While the former was a bullied nerd, the latter was the popular jock. A few years later, they both find each other as rookies of the police force. What's worse, they become partners, bicycling around parks for the occasional petty crime. But one day, they unravel a drug deal and successfully capture the culprit. Unfortunately, Jenko wasn't able to completely read the suspect's Miranda Rights (he couldn't get past "You have the right to remain silent..."), forcing the station to let go of dealer.

As a consequence, the bumbling duo is sent to Jump Street to work as undercover cops. This program was a "recycled" program in the 80's that has been revived by the station to satisfy directives from higher ups. They have to uncover the insidious drug-dealing operation within the campus to prevent the widespread peddling of HFS, a new synthetic narcotic, and they have to turn in the people behind this operation. They are in fact sent back to high school, an experience that scarred Schmidt who was traumatized by several high school memories, like getting laughed at after gathering the nerve to ask the most popular girl out for the prom. Jenko, meanwhile, is pleased. He had his glory days in high school - and this would be easy. Or is it?

Running on flimsy and predictable plot, the mismatched partners have to work on chemistry and turn to enthusiasm to make the story more believable. After all, hunky Channing Tatum would never pass for a high school "kid" (he is 32). Once we suspend disbelief that the students were absolutely clueless and that something was amiss, then it's a walk in the park where its entertainment quotient is concerned. This unforeseeable happening couldn't be farther from the concept of the late 80's original TV show (which wasn't exactly labelled under "comedy"). Hilarity ensues when Schmidt and Jenko had to switch identities: Tatum is assigned to the nerdy/techie posse, and the burdensome Chemistry class (one of their directives say that they "cannot be expelled"); Hill, on the other hand, gets to deal with the popular girl Molly (Brie Larson) and her boyfriend - popular jock Eric (Dave Franco). Then they discover Eric's ruse. How will they catch the supplier of Eric's products? Will they ever come close? How can a former "dork" summon the good grace of the most popular guy in school?


There is a wonderful surprise sometime before the conclusion as some "unfamiliar" faces "return" to pay homage to the series that brought them fame in the 80's. Except for two of its original cast, everyone else returns for a few seconds. Even Dustin Nguyen (who couldn't personally make the shoot - he has a great career in Vietnam these days) is shown on a TV screen.

Peppered with good natured scenes that aren't as irreverent as the latest installment of Schlossberg and Hurwitz's "American Pie: Reunion", Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller's "21 Jump Street" coasts on their actor's cinematic charm, humor and easy camaraderie more than narrative heft. But that's not so bad. I don't mind this bit of an easy time at the cinema. Not when the baddie is as good looking as pint-sized Dave Franco. Yum!

Ice Cube plays Captain Dickson, Jump Street's boss.

Miss Griggs harbors a crush on a student!

Dave Franco, James' younger brother, plays popular jock Eric who peddles a synthetic drug and a lot of sexy charm.

Jonah Hill flaunts his amazing weight loss and "new" persona.

Channing Tatum appears in one hit flick after the next. With 7 projects in different state of production, Tatum  is one of Hollywood's busiest. He will appear next in Steven Soderbergh's "Magic Mike" where he revisits a not-so-savory past, i.e. the role of a stripper. In the story, Tatum will play guide to a new protege, the gorgeous Alex Pettyfer ("I Am Number Four", "Beastly"). The film also stars Matthew McConaughey and Matt Bomer.

Dave Franco appears next in Louis Letterier's "Now You See Me" with  Mark Ruffalo,  Woody Harrelson,  Morgan Freeman, Isla Fisher, Michael Caine and Jesse Eisenberg.

Dave Franco also appears as a zombie in Jonathan Levine's ("50/50") "Warm Bodies". The film is set for release in 2013.

Dave Franco

Johnny Depp played Officer Tom Hanson in 1987's "21 Jump Street" TV series that popularly ran  for 3 years.

Don't you just love the fly-away hair?

Cast of the original TV series. Three of them do cameos.

No comments: