Quick Movie Review: 21 Jump Street (2012)

21 jump street Given our current situation as parents of a very active toddler and a born-early infant, my wife and I don’t find a lot of time where we’re just hanging out in an evening with enough time to watch a feature film. Well, one night a few weekends back we were in that rarified air on a Saturday night and decided to give Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s 21 Jump Street a look.

The basic concept is that Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) were high school adversaries who both wound up being less-than-well-balanced police academy students who got over their past to become good friends. They also get assigned to the re-opened 21 Jump Street program which takes young-looking cops and puts them into high schools to help solve crimes (the basic plot of the Fox series of the same name, of course). Their first mission puts them in a school where a new drug is making the rounds and it’s their job to bust it up. As they get to school, though, the jocky Jenko comes to realize that his ways aren’t cool anymore while Schmidt quickly gets in with the popular kids, relishing ever minute of his newfound acceptance.

This movie won me over in the first 10 minutes or so when they quickly got past the bullying stuff and got right to these guys becoming real, good friends. It reminded me a little of Hill’s similar relationship with Michael Cera’s character in Superbad because it feels honest, especially when it hits snags as the film progresses. Beyond that, it’s just a damn funny movie. I laughed so hard throughout the entire film that my throat was a little sore afterwards.

In addition to the big name leads, the film includes plenty of great cameos — including one by original series star Johnny Depp! — and the leads were fantastic, but Dave Franco really stole the show for me personally. Nothing against his brother, but I think the younger Franco might be even more charismatic. He’s captivating, plain and simple.

As far as relating back to the original material, I wasn’t a 21 Jump Street fan when the show was on. For a long time, it was a reference I’d hear, but only vaguely understood. But I did watch at least the first season on Netflix a few years back and had fun with it. So, with some knowledge going in, I’d say that Lord and Miller used the concept of the series as a spring board for something much bigger and funnier, but without making fun of the original too much.

Lord And Miller Hopping On Board 22 Jump Street

21 jump street poster

21 Jump Street surprised a lot of people when it came out last year. People weren’t sure what to think of the comedic take on the 80s Fox drama about young-looking cops infiltrating high schools to solve crimes, but the combination of Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill’s script, Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s direction and the chemistry between stars Hill and Channing Tatum made the film a comedy-action hit.

Lord and Miller talked to Collider during SDCC this year and announced a good deal of information on 22 Jump Street, which will be their post-The LEGO Movie follow-up. First up, they discussed some of the challenges in nailing down the script.

“People don’t wanna see the same movie that they saw the first time, they don’t wanna see something super different from the first movie, and navigating what that is has been challenging,” Miller said. “We didn’t really sign on to this movie until about a month ago because we didn’t feel like we were sure that it would be a good movie, and then finally we got to a point in the script where we were like, ‘Okay, I believe this will be a good movie.’”

“It’s more about their marriage, basically,” Lord said after talking about how he and Miller looked to their own relationships for inspiration. “If the first movie is about two people getting together for the first time, this is about what happens if you try to really make the relationship work.  We’ll probably never do another bromance after this one, but we’re trying to get as emotionally deep into that as possible.”

He also quickly explained the story-logic behind the name change: “It’s called 22 Jump Street because they move across the street.”

Production is expected to begin in New Orleans this September.

Season Finale: 21 Jumpstreet Season 1

I’ve had a great time going through all the TV shows that Netflix streams instantly and picking different ones to try out. 21 Jumpstreet stuck out for me because it had a young Johnny Depp in it. After doing some reading I discovered that the first season which premiered in 1987 helped the then-new Fox network by being a pretty big success. The funny thing, though, is that I have absolutely no memory of this show existing from my younger years. Maybe my folks didn’t like Fox for some reason, maybe it’s because I was 4 and it wasn’t syndicated in Toledo. Who knows?

The premise is that Depp’s a young 20-something cop who gets put on a special squad of other young looking cops who get sent into high school situations undercover to try and solve crimes. They city they’re in is never mentioned but it must have an incredibly high population because it seems to be the land of a thousand high schools, with each episode taking place in a different one.

The series started out with just a handful of detectives, including Dom DeLuise’s son Peter and Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper’s Holly Robinson (who also sang the theme song!) under the tutelage of Captain Richard Jenko played by Frederic Forest. Halfway through the first season, though, they kill off Jenko and Steven Williams came in as Captain Adam Fuller. With Fuller’s entrance, the small unit became much bigger, but our core group remained the main stars.

The main thing I was surprised and impressed by for a show coming out in the late 80s is how many broad societal problems the show tackled. You’ve got everything from drugs to pornography getting talked about and investigated in these episodes. Sure, these things are commonplace elements in television now, but you’ve got to appreciate the balls it took to break away from conventional wisdom and try to address teenage high school issues. Now, I would imagine actual 80s teens would call bullshit on some of the fashions and slang, but watching these episodes almost 25 years later, they’re still sadly pertinent.

Depp might be the star as the buttoned up Tom Hanson, but my favorite character has to be DeLuise’s Doug Penhall. I also like Pete’s character, she’s both tough and relate-able. I can’t say there’s any specific episodes that stick out in my mind–I did watch the full season over a month or two–but I enjoyed every episode.

My favorite aspect of the show, though, and the one I can imagine made the show popular for kids who were actually in high school, is watching these people go through the nonsense of school but not actually be a part of it. They might act like they care what the rules of the school are and what the teachers say, but in reality, this is just a job and an illusion for them. Mr. Johnson’s being a jerk in chemistry? No big deal, none of it matters. Some jerk bully is giving you trouble? Psh, not only are you trained to kill but you OWN A GUN! I don’t know if I’m explaining it well, but it’s an element of the show I definitely dug.