Tuesday, 13 March 2012

21 JUMP STREET (2012) - 3 STARS

"When did you go through puberty? Like at seven or something."


Comedy films continue to do well with audiences at the moment and it looks as though that will roll on by with 21 Jump Street being the latest to spread laughter in all its raunchiness as it pairs two different looking actors together to provide a surprisingly successful on-screen partnership in this humourous though unimaginative adaption of the 'dramatic' television series from the late 1980s. Shows being turned into films have received mixed results in the past with the good (Naked Gun) and the bad (Miami Vice) but with this particular effort, it is just about okay yet absurd at the same time....
Several years ago, bickering students Jenko (Tatum) and Schmidt (Hill) had their differences during their time in high school together but years later they work together to graduate from the police department and become best pals. But when they mess up with making their first arrest, they are assigned to work on an undercover mission for fiery Captain Dickson (Cube) which sees them returning to high school as students in order to stop a drug operation taking place which has led to a student's death. Realising that school has changed for them since they left, the two men mix in with various students to try and find the people behind the supply with student Eric (Dave Franco, younger brother of James) seen as the one connected to those involved. Facing pressure to crack the case and as well as one of them being desired by female classmate Molly (Brie Larson), Jenko and Schmidt know they must uncover the perpetrators or face losing their badges....

Many people (like myself) wouldn't have known that the original TV series was serious compared to this tongue-in-cheek romp which surprisingly works well in its new genre. The laughs are aplenty here as you would expect with these types of comedies ranging from the usual gags to some completely farcical but hysterical moments. The main highlight would probably be when our two heroes take the venomous drug and go on the ultimate freak out with mass hallucinations and crazy antics causing them to lose the plot. It also pokes fun at the typical cliches of action films such as a thrilling chase sequence where the two men are pursued by villainous bikers which leads to certain moments not going quite right for them. The film also deals with going against school stereotypes particularly when the pair discover that Eric, for all his machoness as a jock, is actually sensitive about the environment. Normally there aren't too many acting partnerships to savour especially in this genre but Hill and Tatum deserve credit for integrating themselves within their characters and pulling off the banter needed for a successful duet. Hill, fresh from his Oscar-nominated role in Moneyball is practically the same as he has been with his previous comedy efforts like Superbad but Tatum on the other hand, more associated for his hunky, lead roles in GI: Joe and Dear John, shows his comedic talent to effect with the sarcastic and no-nonsense attitude required for his character. Ice Cube has fun as the moody and snappy boss who tells our duo not to seek help from Korean Jesus (one of the random moments of the film) while the likes of Franco and Larson stand out in their youthful supporting roles. But for those who may have watched the original TV series, there is a genius yet ill-fated cameo from one of Hollywood's biggest superstars which sadly puts all the cameos in the recent Muppets film to shame.
Stemming into the negatives here, the writing does let the film down and leads to an unimaginative story which relies on the various gags to keep the audience happy. It continues the trend set by previous cop comedies like Starsky and Hutch and The Other Guys in paying homage to the crime genre but it does all become predictable at times with how the narrative plays out. And while it is a hysterical film, the raunchy humour does become too disbelieving with overblown moments like Jenko and Schmidt trying to be sick by putting their fingers in each other mouths. One can't help but feel they're watching Superbad again and that seems to be a common trait with all these absurd comedies in recent years.

VERDICT: It's not spectacular in terms of story but 21 Jump Street will make you laugh at times as the newly established on-screen duo of Hill and Tatum work well together in this hit-miss comedy with lots of crazy antics. A sequel would actually be welcoming....


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