21 Jump Street stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as Schimdt and Jenko. Two guys who were polar opposites in high school. Schmidt was a geek and Jenko was a jock. The two cross paths again when they meet at the police academy. Jenko is horrible with math so Schmidt offers to help him pass his exams in exchange for help from Jenko to become physically fit and a top shot with a gun. The two become friends and pass their exams and then botch their very first arrest by forgetting to read the criminal his miranda rights. The mistake costs the two friends dearly as they are transferred to the 21 Jump Street program. This program forces younger looking officers to go undercover in high schools to stop major crimes from being committed.
The main positive of 21 Jump Street is the chemistry between Hill and Tatum as friends. You believe the way they support each other and knock each other down throughout the film. They get into scrapes trying to keep their true identities hidden from their high school classmates. I love how both characters not only work together but eventually become like brothers to each other. Supporting characters that provide humor are Captain Dickson played by Ice Cube and Mr. Walters played by Rob Riggle.
21 Jump Street works as comedic departure from the 80’s teen cop drama it is based on because most of the humor in the film refers to stereotypes of the teen dramas or comedies you can currently find in movies and television. For example, Schmidt and Jenko look considerably older than the high school students they are supposed to portray. Comments from Mr. Walters about the two main characters hitting puberty early are made as well as other jokes made by students about the car Schmidt drives to school. The film is smart because it does not just utilize referential humor it also plays with audiences expectations during action scenes. If a motorcycle or car crashes into a gasoline tank, it’s expected to explode. In some very funny cases the explosions don’t occur and its hilarious that nothing happens.
The major negative of 21 Jump Street is that no one catches on to the fact that Schmidt and Jenko are police officers throughout the film. To me, it would seem incredibly obvious that those two students are actually officers of the law. This gripe is minor though and doesn’t hinder the film from being a great time at the movies. 21 Jump Street also includes cameos from the original leads of the 80’s television series. Yes ladies that means you get to see Johnny Depp in the film. I think that the cameos were used at the appropriate times and gave a clever if succinct homage to the television series the film is based on. I would have liked to see a scene in the film where the original cast and the film’s two leads bonded over the difficult nature of working undercover but the film does fine without it.
21 Jump Street is a police program I’d be happy to see again if a sequel is made.