21 Jump Street

Director: Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum and Dave Franco
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Runtime: 109 mins. Reviewed in Mar 2012
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Strong violence, crude humour, coarse language and drug use

Basically, for a younger demographic.

This is the popular television series (with Johnny Depp who does an entertaining cameo this time) from the later 1980s. Almost a quarter of century later, Jonah Hill and fellow writers, have taken the core plot and more than updated it. Yes, there are the two cops (ineffectual rookies, Channing Tatum, the heartthrob from school now struggling with studies and even remembering his Miranda warnings properly, and Jonah Hill the ultra-gawky nerd with brains but finding the police training a physical challenge, are no on the first assignment, patrolling a quiet park on bicycles.

When their attempted arrest of some bikies flops, they are assigned to a special squad housed in the Church of the Aroma of Christ, a former Korean church with a Korean Jesus crucifix. It is presided over by a continually angry and swearing Ice Cube. Talking of swearing, there is much more here than on the TV series and a preoccupation with raucous comedy and frequent phallic jokes. The rookies are assigned to undercover work to find dealers and makers of a new drug (which they first watch on a You Tube clip).

Yes, they are too old for school, but, after getting their fake names mixed up, they go to the wrong courses, Jonah to sport as well as a performance of Peter Pan, Channing to science. The comedy is that each adapts to his opposite. And it is all mixed up with the pleasant dealer who gets them in on the act, with a girl who finds Jonah attractive, the fellow nerds with whom Channing feels more and more at home, with a leering sports coach, and with the bikies – which leads to shoot-outs and traffic jammed chases and explosions.

Younger audiences will find it funny, and the two do play well off each other. Older audiences may find it a bit too much to spend so much time in this school and might feel that a little of our heroes goes a fairly long way.

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