Clever, profane and action-packed, “21 Jump Street” fairly leaps onto the big screen as one of the most enjoyable movies of the (still-admittedly young) year.
There’s not a bad moment here because the script always stays smart and fresh, even though it’s a nod to the original “21 Jump Street” television series that ran from 1987 to ‘91. The premise is the same, but the environment is much different. This is a straight-on cop-buddy comedy that includes plenty of action and, yes, character development. And its deserved “R” rating takes it into grownups-only territory.
It’s also a great showcase for Channing Tatum, known primarily for his beefcake roles in movies such as “The Vow” and “Step Up.” Tatum holds his own against Jonah Hill (“Superbad,” “Get Him to the Greek”), a great comedic talent who helped come up with the story. In fact, in a couple of spots, Tatum steals the scenes.
Hill is Schmidt, a nerd in high school who was rarely able to get a girl to even look at him. Jenko (Tatum) was a popular high school jock who was a favorite with the ladies but wasn’t particularly bright. They help each other out in their police academy training and end up as partners and best friends.
While they tool around a park on their bicycles, they discuss how disappointed they are that they see little action (except for a drug bust that goes frightfully bad). Their captain (Ice Cube) assigns them to the Jump Street Squad, where the officers impersonate high school students because they look younger than they are. The duo is supposed to track down who’s behind the sudden influx of a new designer drug that is killing teenagers in a local high school.
Once they make it to school, their roles reverse: Jenko is fascinated by chemistry and Schmidt finds himself attracted to a cute girl with whom he is selected to perform in a production of “Peter Pan.” Little by little, each begins to gather information while reliving his “lost” high school days.
Bicycle chases, car chases, explosions … this has them all, and they are played to great comic effect. And I don’t want to ruin a terrific surprise, so all I’ll say is you might see a familiar face or two here.
Want a good laugh? Jump right in.