Movie Review: 21 Jump Street
by Julie Kelley
I want to assure you I don’t write movie reviews only for Channing Tatum movies. It just so happens he has been in a lot of movies lately, including this one, which co-stars Jonah Hill. Channing Tatum plays a high school jock, failing school but ruling at his social life. Jonah Hill plays the inept nerd Eminem wannabe, who is passing school and failing at even the slightest bit of cool.
21 Jump Street is definitely a show I watched in the 80’s but I can’t say I remember much about it, except for Johnny Depp. In adulthood, Jenko (Tatum) and Schmidt (Hill) join the police academy and learn that each has a serious strength that compliments the other’s weakness. They help each other through the academy and are sworn in as law enforcement officers. Originally assigned Park duty they botch their first case for failing to properly issue the Miranda warning, to a drug using member of a biker gang. I am mentioning the bike gang on purpose, we will revisit them again.
The result of the botched bust? “You’re reassigned. To 37 Jump Street. Wait, that doesn’t sound right… 21 Jump Street.” 21 Jump Street is the undercover headquarters for the police department in a defunct Korean church, complete with a Korean Jesus. Their Captain, Dickson, played hilariously by Ice Cube, has a serious chip on his shoulder. For Captain Dickson, everything is a race thing. He likes the handsome jock, Jenko, but cannot tolerate nerdy Schmidt. Addressing Schmidt, who interrupts and makes excuses, he states, “When I’m talking to him, I’m talking to him. When I’m talking to you, shut the f%&* up.”
Their assignment is to go undercover to attempt to infiltrate a high school drug ring. The newfangled drug has caused the death of a high school student. What Schmidt and Jenko realize is that the distinctive high school class lines of just jocks and nerds has completely changed since their tenure in school. The new age high school has goths, nerds, jocks, artists, hipsters, etc. The new ruling class is the hipsters, into the environment, thrift stores and being politically correct.
What makes it worse is that Schmidt and Jenko cannot remember who is who with their undercover identities so Schmidt ends up in the easy classes and Jenko ends up in the smart classes, a complete role reversal.
Schmidt ends up being in the popular crowd and immediately hones in on the drug dealer, a hipster named Eric. I was going to make a snarky comment that if actor James Franco had a little brother, the guy who plays Eric is him! Turns out he is the younger brother of James Franco. As Eric, he is the environmentally conscious yearbook editor, and the local high school drug dealer. Schmidt and Jenko arrange a buy from Eric, only to be instructed to take the drug by Eric, to convince him they are not narcs. The drug has 5 stages, starting with the giggles….
Having completed part of their goal, finding the supplier, Schmidt and Jenko embark on a path to find the actual drug supplier. Eric begins to believe that there is no way Schmidt or Jenko are narcs and begins to take in Schmidt as a part of his operation. Schmidt and Jenko follow Eric to a meet with who they believe are the suppliers, and lo and behold, it is the bikers! Schmidt and Jenko are in the middle of an immature fight and inadvertently rear end one of the bikers, only to then be chased by the bikers.
Eric finds out that the biker gang was followed by ‘the police’ after the meet (although he doesn’t realize ‘the police’ was Schmidt and Jenko), becomes hysterical and insists that now his crew needs guns and preparation to avoid arrest. “Do you know what happens to guys like me in prison? It rhymes with grape!”
This film was actually well written, and well played. It has enough raunchy scenes and cussing that I would definitely leave the kids at home. Yes, even your 13 year old. This movie, however, has a nice combination of action and comedy and was a definite snickerfest. It is definitely worth the ticket price. I’m not going to spoil this movie for you, but I will leave you with this, Johnny Depp and a limo chase scene….
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