DVD Review: 21 Jump Street
If I were to make a list of actors in Hollywood I detest, the two main stars of 21 Jump Street would probably fall in the Top 15. I won't get into the details of why, but I try to avoid films starring either these days. And yet the hype around this early 2012 comedy was too much for me to ignore forever.
Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill start off on opposite ends of the high school social spectrum, but end up going to the police academy together and becoming friends when they realize they complete one another in the brains and strength department. Eventually, after an arrest gone awry, they are sent back to high school to infiltrate a drug ring before it gets out of hand.
Sometimes two negatives do a make a positive, because for as juvenile and ridiculous as the film is, it's also pretty hysterical. The plot is as contrived as one would expect, as the two leads accidentally switch their undercover identities on the first day of the assignment, therefore the chubby smart one must be the popular jock and the big dumb one must be the super smart geek, eventually leading them to some self discovery. But this isn't what makes the film. Tatum and Hill, typically painful for me on their own, have a great screen chemistry and pull off the buddy copy stereotype better than most in recent years.
However, outside the predictable plot, the film has a great general sense humor, particularly when it's being self referential, like mocking its lack of originality for being a spin-off of an old t.v. show. And of course, I really dug Depp's cameo, which turned out to be more than the walk-on role I initially expected.
Of course, most of my appreciation comes more from surprise than anything, because the film does have issues. Brie Larson as Hill's love interest was extremely bland and I often wondered why she was even included, but had to keep reminding myself that Hill's character had to know what it was like to get the popular girl, or so I assume. And at almost 2 hours, the already contrived plot really starts two wear thin toward the middle, only to pick up just in time for the big shoot-out-at-prom ending.
This year in film has held several surprises so far, both good and bad, and 21 Jump Street is one of the big ones. It proves than when done (mostly) right, even comedy snobs like me can enjoy juvenile humor once in awhile.