The original 21 Jump Street was one of those ’80s shows that seemed really cool at the time but looking back on it nowadays you’re embarrassed you ever liked it. It’s worth watching for the glimpse at Johnny Depp’s early, pre-superstardom career and perhaps as a fun stroll down Regrettable ’80s Fashion Lane, but not much else.
So when I heard about the new 21 Jump Street movie I wasn’t exactly quivering with anticipation in my sparkly leotard. If not for the recent overabundance of pseudo-nostalgic reboots of popular TV shows from my youth, I might have been a little more excited about it, but my initial reaction was a full-fledged “meh.”
After seeing the film last night and laughing so hard I almost peed myself (seriously), I’m completely rethinking that position.
Like the premise of the original show, 21 Jump Street is about a special unit of young cops who go undercover to fight youth-related crime. In this case it’s the awesomely-named Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum), two underachieving cops forced to go back to high school in order to bring down a synthetic drug ring, with the fun twist that they used to be enemies in their own high school days.
Have you ever seen The Other Guys? Well 21 Jump Street is kind of like that except set in a high school and Ice Cube is there to make it more awesome and uncomfortable.
Forgoing the cheesy teen melodrama that the original series was known for, the new 21 Jump Street is all comedy. While Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are hilarious together, I think the real source of the comedy is in the editing.
As fodder for funny quotes and animated GIFs, 21 Jump Street is a goldmine. At the center of the plot is the fictional synthetic drug HFS (short for Holy Fucking Shit) which has five phases:
- Phase 1: The Giggs
- Phase 2: Tripping Major Ballsack
- Phase 3: Over-Falsity of Confidence
- Phase 4: Fuck Yeah Motherfucker!
- Phase 5: Asleepyness
Throughout the movie you’ll see various characters take the HFS drug and react accordingly, while helpful on-screen title cards announce what phase you’re witnessing. It hilarious, trust me.
If you are a diehard fan of the original show you’ll probably be disappointed to know that the new film is nothing like it aside from its premise and the Johnny Depp / Richard Grieco double cameo that you’ll have to wait over an hour and a half to see.
At a running time of 109 minutes, my biggest complaint is that the movie is too long for a goofball comedy and toward the end I felt it was getting old. There’s a lengthy car chase scene with a running gag where you keep expecting an explosion, and when it finally does happen you’re just kind of like “meh,” which sums up how I felt about seeing this film in the first place.
6 out of 10 stars.