'21 Jump Street' (English)
Director: Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Ellie Kemper, Rob Riggle, Ice Cube
Running time: 109 minutes
You know that awkward moment when you find a former schoolmate whom you never really got to know because you or never really liked because she was never really anything like you is now a colleague? Well that’s how Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) reunite, eight years after graduating high school. The geek and jock land up at the same police academy, thanks to the turns life takes.
They never really liked each other, but they never really disliked each other, so they bumble along till they botch up the one interesting incident on their beat. They arrest druglord Domingo (DeRay Davis), but have to let him go on a technicality, and that spins them into a world of psychedelia and trauma – either because of their ineptitude, or luck, they’re reassigned to 21, Jump Street, a division of the police that specialises in infiltrating high schools for drug busts.
Their boss, the aptly named Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) makes a great show of his incredulity at the existence of two such imbeciles.
So Schmidt and Jenko are asked to go undercover at a high school which Domingo is believed to have ties with. Conveniently, they went to the same high school, located within shouting distance of the Schmidts’ home.
They move in with Schmidt’s parents, and pretend to be brothers. The high school staples make their way here – the PE teacher Rob Riggle who witnesses everyone’s goofballness, a lusting schoolteacher Ellie Kemper who fancies her students, the cooler-than-cool popular guy (Dave Franco), the beautiful-but-sweet popular girl (Brie Larson), and the bad guys on bikes that the cool guys in school get mixed up with.
Thanks to Jenko’s paucity of cognitive skills, he and Schmidt end up rewriting their own lives by living each other’s, in their second tryst with high school. While at it, they get deeper into the drug-dealing business than they intended. Naturally, Schmidt ends up doing the dangerous stuff, while Jenko gets slightly effeminate.
The humour is mostly slapstick, but there are a couple of lines that will make you laugh out loud, and the dialogue delivery from Jonah Hill is especially good. The climactic scenes are nicely timed.
Of course, a Hollywood action comedy is usually bubble wrapped, and this is no exception. But it doesn’t grate, and we get some relief from an unexpected cameo.