When I heard that a comedic remake of 21 Jump Street was being produced, I hammered a nail right into my brain, because I decided it would be easier to stomach another Charlie's Angels or I Spy as an invalid. When the film started to get not good but great reviews, I assumed it was just the nail taking effect, distorting my view of things. But the great reviews kept piling in and I was forced to accept them as truth. So I rounded up a couple of equally skeptical friends and went to see for myself - and was rewarded with a truly fantastic experience.
21 Jump Street works because writers Jonah Hill and Michael Bacall know damn well that audiences are sick to death of remakes. They knew that a film version - a comedic version, no less - of a hit cop show from twenty years ago was going to be met with groans, and not only did they roll with that, but they tailored it specifically for that crowd. The film is completely aware of what it is and pokes fun at itself every chance it gets with hilarious results.
And not only does 21 Jump Street parody remakes, but it makes equal mockery of buddy cop flicks and high school comedies. It all blends together so well thanks to not only a plot that allows for it (undercover cops posing as high school students), but to whip-smart writing that cleverly utilizes an actual shift in real-world teenage society. The nerds now rule the world, and so while athletic pretty boy Jenko (Channing Tatum) can't seem to fit in, the awkward and nerdy Schmidt (Jonah Hill) clicks with the cool kids almost immediately.
Of course none of this would work as well as it does if not for the wonderful performances and undeniable chemistry between Tatum and Hill, who inject a surprising amount of heart into what could've been a very shallow comedy, which still might've succeeded given the current culture of remakes and the sorry state of comedies. The bar couldn't have been set lower for 21 Jump Street, and yet Hill, Bacall, and directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller deliver one of the best films of the year so far.
The end of the film sets up for a sequel that was greenlit the day after the film was released. Hill and Bacall are once again set to write while of course Hill and Tatum are set to reprise their roles. I couldn't be happier. 21 Jump Street is one of the best surprises to hit the cinema in a long time. It's a refreshing, relevant, and satisfying action comedy that deserves every bit of success it's getting.
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