Release: Friday, March 16, 2012
Jonah Hill, as of late, has been quite the man about Hollywood. The former chubster’s darting in and out of almost every movie that has a possible scene of comic lewdness in it, for the chance of boosting a paycheck a couple mil. Can’t say I necessarily blame him. In many instances he’s great and he fills out the screen nicely — and no, that’s not another fat joke. Or, maybe it is. I don’t know.
This past March we took a drive past Johnny Depp’s old neighborhood — 21 Jump Street –this time, in the form of a full-length feature film. Unfortunately, in 2012, most of those tough jean-jacket-touting teen idols have been substituted by a contemporary hallucination of the stigmas. One that doesn’t have Depp’s charisma and that doesn’t have (for obvious reasons) the lingo and attitudes held by most teens of the time, so directors of today instead substitute in penis/fart/boob jokes that is the comic expressiveness of our era.
This wouldn’t have necessarily been a mistake had the entire movie not suffered a case of the look-a-like, sound-a-like, be-a-likes. Whereas Tatum offers his funny side in 21 Jump Street, Hill does nothing more but pad his resume in this raunchy little romp down backroads and dark alleys …wait. No, damn it that was Superbad. Now I’m getting confused.
And, how easy it is to get that way. With Hill starring in films like Moneyball (a viable movie that enjoyed great success) as well as the upcoming The Watch (already showing tell-tale signs of a critical and commercial flop) and lots of stuff in between, it’s next to impossible to get away from thinking about everything that Hill is bringing to a revamped late-’80s television show about kicking crime’s ass out of high schools/colleges.
Sadly, there’s nothing comically different in this from many of Hill’s other works of the filmed variety, but I also cannot dismiss this picture by saying it was not hilarious — it was. Painfully so, at times, actually. The cameo by Depp was a must, and I’m glad he did get a line in edgeways.
Additionally, I credit directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller for keeping things real when every environment within the movie seemed to go to hell. A rather focused and trim storyline requires the two recently-graduated-to-full-cop-status bozos (Hill and Tatum) to keep track of a new drug on the market — a synthetic substance that is known to kill and create all kinds of crazy hallucinations. The typical series-of-misadventures montage whisks us straight to a conclusion that can be detected a mile away — yes, even while in the ‘Tripping Hard As Balls’ phase.
Though relatively true to the spirit of its televised ancestor, 21 Jump Street is largely a collection of some of the funniest lines Hill (and definitely Tatum) have read and rehearsed for their director(s). Mix that in with plot twists that have been recounted over and over again and you average out with an enjoyable experience, but be weary that you’re in for déjà vu all over again, with at least one actor.
Recommendation: For the laughs, this is an absolute must. For originality, you’d be better off with Inception….or at least, something else.
Running Time: 109 mins.
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