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21 Jump Street

May 7, 2012

21 Jump Street (2012)
Directors: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
Actors: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Brie Larson

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Synopsis: Two newly recruited police cadets (Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum) are forced to go ‘undercover’ in the local high school to smoke out the dealer of a new hallucinogenic drug.

Review: 21 Jump Street is an apt staging post for where the Hollywood comedy currently lies. It comes at the back-end of a ten-year refinement of the Frat Pack movement, and is also part of the trend that has seen the high-school flick adapt and become more ‘postmodern’ since all those Shakespeare rebrands – Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You, Get Over It – in the mid-late ’90s.

If you like your comedy ultra-stylised and full of references, then this will be right up your (jump) street. It’s an extremely apt and witty dissection of its time, with the once fat and nerdy Jonah Hill swapping places with the jock Channing Tatum in the new high school pecking order, especially since technology and millennial culture have completely altered how coolness and success are constituted – a similar theme to David Fincher’s recent The Social Network? If you’re like me though, and you like your comedy a bit darker and less wanting to be liked, then you might be a tad disappointed. The postmodern posturing – exemplified when the police sergeant giving Tatum and Hill’s characters their initial briefing makes an ironic comment about everything being franchised and a copy now – speaks less to me of the film’s wit and more as disingenuous apologism for its own laziness and lack of originality.

When the film’s not trying too hard, it can be quite funny. Ice Cube delivers his lines as the clichéd, foul-mouthed, badass cop with relish, and there is some good slapstick from Tatum and Hill in places. But in short, this film isn’t perhaps quite as clever as it perceives itself to be. (May 2012)

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