‘21 Jump Street’ - It’s laughter all the way (IANS Movie Review)April 21st, 2012 - 8:36 pm ICT by IANS
Film: “21 Jump Street”; Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube; Director: Phil Lord and Chris Miller; Rating: ***1/2
Filmmaking is a complex art where the same elements can mix up in different ways to make a completely different film. A case in point is “21 Jump Street”.
Its story is your typical and average ‘Buddy flick’ but has been executed in a manner that is funny, irreverent, self-deprecating and laugh-riot to boot. That this hilarious caper is based on a late 1990s TV series which was more a moral, crime tale for teens than a funny one, is something that becomes as funny as the movie.
Schmidt (Hill) and Janko (Tatum) are as opposites as they get. The former is smart, but the latter is popular and good in sports.
At police academy, they team up to help each other pass. Joining the force, they become part of ‘21 Jump Street’ an undercover operation where young police officers infiltrate schools to rid them of menace.
They are assigned to a high school and told to find the source of a new drug that is doing the rounds. However, their re-entry into school and their mission would be tougher than they had ever imagined.
Films like this work mainly on one thing - their gags. Surprisingly this one manages to get its dose of original gags and slapstick comedy right enough to have you laughing through its duration.
Those who had seen the series, that launched Johnny Depp (who makes a cameo in this film), would remember it as a morality tale for teenagers (there was even a message at the end by the cast like in Indian show “Hum Log”).
To turn that into a laugh-riot, would obviously have taken a lot of efforts.
Hats off to the directorial team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller who get it just right.
Aiding them is the cast. Lead pair of Tanning and Hill get their male-buddy-chemistry just about right. They are not on the face, and neither too cliched. It is obvious that the two were having fun during the shoot and that translates into audiences having fun in the theatre.
The rest of the cast, especially the high school kids are immaculately cast as well. It observes and makes fun of high school teens today and their peculiar habits. For example, where they rarely talk on their mobile phone while being perennially busy texting.
Those old enough would remember the day when business was handled by calling someone.
It’s also got the cliche of almost every high school film of the 1980s and 1990s - right from the nerdy but studious gang to the big deal and limo at prom night. It twists those cliches and plays with them enough for it to make both a tribute and satire of it.
Though “21 Jump Street” does not break any new ground in comedy, it tills the existing ground to give you a uproarious crop.
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Tags: 21 jump street, buddy flick, cameo, caper, case in point, channing tatum, chris miller, complex art, directorial team, doing the rounds, gags, janko, johnny depp, laugh riot, moral crime, police academy, schmidt hill, self deprecating, slapstick comedy, undercover operation