For those of us who grew up in the 80’s, 21 Jump Street was the first place where our love affair with Johnny Depp began. But don’t be fooled into thinking this feature film is a remake of the deadly serious police-procedural series. 21 Jump Street is co-written and produced by Jonah Hill (of Super Bad fame) and is created purely to tickle our funny bones.
Both Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill star as officers Schmidt and Jenko, who were once high school classmates (Tatum, the bullying jock and Hill, the overweight nerd) whose paths cross once again at the police academy. With the aim of bringing down a teenage drug ring, the pair is reunited to act as undercover agents (improbably as high school students) in a newly re-commissioned police programme.
The film takes a hilarious look at the stereotypical American high school preconceptions, which have now become not so common. On entering the high school, the pair immediately begins mentally creating their own cliques (Jocks, Nerds, Cheerleaders), only to be faced with an entirely unfamiliar landscape – Emos, Harajuku Girls, Hipsters etc. The old preconceptions don’t apply and Hill and Tatum suddenly find themselves adapting to the new ‘norms’, which Jenko surprisingly finds easier than Schmidt.
Ironically both Tatum’s and Hill’s partnership make the gaffaw-inducing script come imperceptively to life. Hill was most recently nominated for an Oscar in his role in Moneyball while Tatum showcases a hitherto invisible flair for comedy. And their mission brings them into contact with a likeable young dealer, Dave Franco (bearing a very close resemblance to brother James Franco).
21 Jump Street makes high school comedies feel young again and the battering of old clichés makes it even more fun to watch if like me you’re not a high school student.