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Film Review : 21 Jumpstreet

03/19/2012 06:34PM ● Published by Justin Buettner

After spending high school tormented as a nerd, Schmidt (played by Jonah Hill), decides to go to the police academy. While there he strikes up a unlikely friendship with Jenko (played by Channing Tatum), a dumb popular jock. Together they help each other through the academy and become officers. When the pair botch an arrest their captain sends them to a new division that forces the duo to go back to high school as undercover narcotic officers. Once back at high school the pair finds that High School has changed quite a bit since they’ve graduated. They must fight getting sucked into the social structure of high school while maintaining their secret identities and finding the supplier of the newest designer narcotics.

21 Jumpstreet is an odd mix of self parody and a throwback to 80’s action comedies. Despite its R rating, the movie could have easily been reduced to a PG-13 had it toned down its language and a handful of scenes. The movie was at its best when it spoofed the buddy action movies of the past including a hilarious car chase scene where the leads keep expecting explosions. The role reversal at the high school was also handled well and delivered many laughs.

What worked so well for the movie is that it set out to do something very different from the TV series it was based on, which took itself much more seriously. Despite the change in tone it still paid homage to the original series including several cameos. 21 Jumpstreet is silly fun and a stark contrast to recent high school based films like Project X and Chronicle, which made big efforts to be realistic in their delivery. It was nice to see a high school based movie without the dark undertones. Because the movie was so light there was never a real element of danger during the action scenes and the few scenes that the movie seemed to want to be taken seriously were paper thin as well.

The two leads, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, worked well together and had a good chemistry. Both actors are riding a wave of box office success and in Hill’s case, awards success. I suspect that this movie will continue their winning streak. Jonah Hill did double duty as he shared screenwriting credit too showcasing his ability as a comic writer as well.

Much has been made of animation directors making live action film debuts. Brad Bird’s Mission Impossible : Ghost Protocol and Andrew Stanton’s John Carter were made with varying degrees of effectiveness, but 21 Jumpstreet is Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s first live action film after directing Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and it has be notched as a success. The pair certainly have a knack for comic timing and have the ability to add a charming tone to their films regardless of whether it’s animation or live action.

The movie set itself up for a sequel which I have no doubt will happen. People looking for a light movie and a lot of laughs mixed with a little bit of action will enjoy 21 Jumpstreet. It delivers everything the commercials promises and nothing more, and in an age when comedies often go for shock value for laughs it’s refreshing to see a comedy go back to basics.

Films like 21 Jumpstreet : The Other Guys, Dragnet, and Starsky and Hutch


Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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