Fresh off his Oscar nod for Moneyball, Jonah Hill has triumphantly returned to his comedic roots in his screenwriting debut. In yet another 80's TV to movie reboot, the Johnny Depp cop series 21 Jump Street is now on the big screen with Hill and action star Channing Tatum in the lead roles. As I'm not personally a fan of the Depp vehicle (having never seen an episode), I decided to go see this film based on the comparisons to Superbad and other R-rated recent comedies.
21 Jump Street focuses on young aspiring police officers Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) as they are tasked to infiltrate a local high school drug production and distribution ring under the guise of students. Ice Cube makes a welcome return to hard R comedy (after a seemingly endless string of family films) as the police captain. The plot of the film is pretty standard for a buddy-cop comedy and benefits from some solid supporting performances including Dave Franco (younger brother of James) as a drug-dealing student.
The biggest revelation in this entire movie is that Channing Tatum actually has some comedic skills. There are several scene stealing moments by Jenko throughout the movie including a fantastic drug-induced slapstick wrecking of a slew of musical instruments in band class. It seems that Tatum is able to use his physical skills to get laughs in the same vane that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson does. The chemistry between Tatum and Hill is really solid in this movie and you get the sense that the two had a blast making it. Hill still looks a bit awkward in his not-as-fat frame although judging by his latest SNL hosting stint, fat Jonah is looking to make a comeback. Ice Cube totally owns all the scenes he's in as he's allowed to scream and throw hilarious f-bombs all over the place.
This is a very funny comedy and probably the funniest film I've seen since Bridesmaids last year. Those of you who are not familiar with the televisions series need not worry about feeling lost at all. This is a humorous 2012 take on high school life and clique categorizations. Look for a surprise cameo towards the end of the movie and see this in theaters if you can to enjoy the experience with a full audience. A well deserved 4 out of 5 JRs for 21 Jump Street which will undoubtedly produce a couple of sequels based on box office returns. It looks as if Channing Tatum is about to become a serious A-list star in both action and comedic roles.