With Jonah Hill’s recent Oscar nomination and Channing Tatum a go-to guy in the world of weepy romances, the odds of their pairing never seemed particularly likely. But after watching Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s 21 Jump Street, you’ll be desperate for more Schmidt and Jenko.
Heading back to high school to shut down a drug ring seven years after graduating, Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) are stunned to learn how things have changed, making way for some very witty satire in regards to technology and prom culture, with Schmidt making sure a text mid-chase includes the ubiquitous ‘LOL’.
Surprisingly, 21 Jump Street brings a rather restrained comic performance from Hill, focusing more on his new-found athletic abilities than his well-worn improvisational skills. Though Hill remains on the right side of gross-out mayhem, it is Tatum who impresses most as the accidentally hilarious jock-cum-science nerd who finds a new lease of life at the hands of those he tormented in school.
Support is very strong, with the object of Schmidt’s desire, Molly (Brie Larson), no shrinking violet and the owner of an actual personality – something that is all too lacking in most of today’s love interests – and Dave Franco injects some surprising emotion into the film’s final act as high school hotshot and Berkeley hopeful, Eric.
Ice Cube may channel his best, pissed off Samuel L. Jackson cop parody to great effect as Captain ‘Sassy’ Dickson, but Ellie Kemper and Rob Riggle don’t fare nearly as well as teachers who fall a little too into the school of Japatow, ending up a little out-of-place and unnatural in their supposed field of work. But then, Tatum and Hill could never truly get away with being teenagers.
This idea of meddling with and poking fun at the norm is played up throughout, with the pair told at the start that ‘the people behind this lack creativity,’ reminding us that the directors are delivering a film that has its tongue firmly placed in its cheek. Though they clearly have a lot of fun tinkering with convention, Lord and Miller truly astonish in their ability to ensure the film never loses momentum while guaranteeing we are intrinsic to their riotous joyride that’s interspersed with hysterical videogame-style, drug-induced interludes.
The final showdown contains elements that will confuse those unfamiliar with the 1980s American TV show of the same name, but they never impinge on the unwelcome and there are plenty of curve-ball surprises – even if it does become a little too silly and distasteful for some in regards to one specific, eye-wincing injury.
Far more intelligent than it lets on and consistently funny and inspired, the captivating bromance between Schmidt and Jenko provides the basis for the best comedy of 2012 so far.
- Commentary with Directors & Cast
- Back To School
- 20 Deleted Scenes
- Gag Reel
(- One that I am not going to mention as it gives away something VERY KEY TO THE FILM!)
- Brothers In Arms
- Peter Pan On The Freeway
- The Rob Riggle Show