Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Dukes See a Movie: 21 Jump Street

Who likes the 80's? I am guessing that question brought some mixed feelings. For some the 80's just seem like an embarrassing time full of hair crimping, Duran Duran and parachute pants. The rest of you probably feel some fondness for that decade since it did give the world at least one amazing thing, me (also remember Skip-It, Reading Rainbow, The California Raisins, the rest of the Dukes, ALF, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ecto Cooler and D.A.R.E.).

You didn't think I would forget Super Mario Bros. did you?

We also have the 80's to thank for Johnny Depp's popularity. He started out his career in the original Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984, but he really got noticed when he started on the TV show 21 Jump Street in 1987. Also as I have stated several times in my posts, Johnny Depp makes everything better (see: Rango).

So when I heard they were remaking 21 Jump Street I got all nostalgic and started thinking about the original series and a young Johnny Depp. After a moment I processed the rest of the news I had heard that Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum were starring in the remake. I thought to myself "but wait, the original series was a drama and this clearly seems set up to be a comedy. How is that going to work out?! Also can Channing Tatum be funny?! I have only ever seen him as a romantic or action lead! Did I turn off the light in my room?! Why am I still shouting questions in my head?!"

As you can see from my train of thought I was more than just a little unsure of how it was going to end up. After a few more months the first preview finally came out and with it a reprieve from some of my worries (I was still worried about wasting electricity). The preview made the movie look hilarious and I decided that this was one movie that I was going to see for sure (along with quite a few more since I might (read: do) have a slight addiction to movies).

Me after 122 movie-less hours

As the show begins we see Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) as they are in high school. Jenko is super popular and gets poor grades. Schmidt is a loner but does well in school. Years later they reunite in the police academy and it seems like not a lot has changed. Jenko is still blessed with his physical attributes but struggles with the written portions. Schmidt is the opposite. They see this and decide they should be friends so they can help each other out (makes sense).

After graduation they end up as partners on the force, but they are total screw ups. Because of this and their youthful appearance they are placed in a special undercover unit that infiltrates high schools. Jenko and Schmidt are tasked with taking town a synthetic drug ring whose product recently had killed a student. Hilarity ensues.

This movie really is full of quite a lot of laugh out loud moments. I probably missed a few things because I couldn't hear the dialogue over the raucous laughter in our theater. I was surprised by the comedic timing and chops that Channing Tatum showed. Also the chemistry between the two leads was amazing. I should warn you that this movie is not for children. The F-word is used 123 times in the movie (half are probably said by Ice Cube in his role as the captain of the jump street unit). For those of you wondering no, I wasn't the one to count them (I was counting other things) but I can imagine who did.

One of my heroes

The plot follows a fairly predictable path, but that is to be expected in this type of comedy.  The movie did provide enough surprises and random events to make this movie feel fresh. During one of the chase scenes nothing blows up or reacts the way that the characters expected. Also the scene where they start tripping on  the drug is great. I won't be able to look at an ice cream cone the same way again. One of the best moments of the film is when Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise have their cameo. Both of them reprise their role from the TV series, but decades from where the show left off. It turns out Johnny Depp really liked the idea of a cameo but said he wouldn't do it without Peter. When Depp showed up on set he pretty much ad-libbed the entire scene. They liked what he said so much that they pretty much just left it alone.

On the whole I really enjoyed the film. It was well made and it did its job in making me laugh. As you should know by now this is where I like to put random facts about the movie. In the movie, Tatum and Hill are discussing how high school had changed and how the popular kids were different. Tatum responds with this gem, "You know who I blame? I blame GLEE. F**K GLEE!" That made me chuckle but when I made the connection to an actual episode of GLEE it really made me laugh. In the 2010 Christmas special of GLEE, Chang has a wish for Santa. He says to Santa "I wish Channing Tatum would stop being in stuff". I guess Channing was none too pleased with this and he used this movie as a chance to get back at them. I had wondered why it didn't look like he was acting in that scene.

Rating 4 Stars

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