21 Jump Street

21 Jump Street
Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are more than ready to leave their adolescent problems behind. Joining the police force and the secret Jump Street unit, they use their youthful appearances to go undercover in a local high school.

As they trade in their guns and badges for backpacks, Schmidt and Jenko risk their lives to investigate a violent and dangerous drug ring. But they find that high school is nothing like they left it just a few years earlier - and neither expects that they will have to confront the terror and anxiety of being a teenager again and all the issues they thought they had left behind.

Review

With remakes, reduxes, reversioning, reimagining, and rereleasing being the common thread in Hollywood these days, it's refreshing to see a film that is fully aware of this trend, makes fun of it, and actually succeeds as a worthy update to the original.

In the case of '21 Jump Street', Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum play the main characters in the movie loosely based on Johnny Depp's 1987-1991 TV series. Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) are cops who go under cover as high school students to investigate a drug ring circulating a new designer drug around school. The social hierarchy of high school is nothing like they remember it. Both struggle to blend in and are confronted with the same issues that plagued them as teenagers, all while struggling to crack their case.

Unlike the original Reagan-era TV show, the 21st-century cinematic version has no overtones of being part of a 'Just Say No' anti-drug PSA campaign. The serious theme is ditched in favor of comedy—the movie plays up the comedic situations of Schmidt and Jenko's role reversals when they return to school, as well as constantly poking fun of the cop-film genre and action flicks in general. With Jonah Hill on the writing team, the notorious cop-movie one-liners that either fall flat or come off as horribly corny in other films are nowhere to be seen here. The snarky, witty, crass, and hilarious dialogue from his 'Superbad' and 'Knocked Up' days is peppered throughout, and works great with Tatum's surprising comedic abilities.

Whether you're remaking something or simply decide to redo high school, take notes. This is how it's done well.

Upsides:
-Cameos from the original TV show cast
-Channing Tatum's departure from the sappy rom-coms we're accustomed to seeing him in
-Clever and self-aware writing keep the laughs coming

Downsides:
-The pacing lags a bit at times.