Directors: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Writers: Michael Bacall (screenplay), Michael Bacall (story)
Stars: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum and Ice Cube
Motion Picture Rating: 15
Runtime: 109 minutes
There is a nice early scene in this update of the Johnny Depp 1980’s TV show where police captain Ice Cube complains that ‘folks keep recycling shit from the’80’s’. That’s in keeping with the first half of the film that maintains a good balance of familiar, but smart comedy. Ice Cube gets some great lines in those early exchanges, but it’s the inter-play between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum that’s most commendable. The co-stars spark nicely off each other and most surprising is just how likeable they are as the miss-matched rookie police officers.
Hill and Tatum were strangers at the same high school (with the former a stereotypical dork and the latter a stereotypical jock). During training at the police academy they came to rely on each other to make it through to graduation. Thereafter they become friends and colleagues whilst trying to get promoted away from ‘policing’ litterers and duck feeders in the local park. That back story and the early police scenes are very funny and the film continues to generate laughs as Hill and Tatum get enrolled in the 21 Jump Street undercover police programme.
The undercover work involves the two going back to high school, but this time around Hill becomes the more popular one whilst Tatum hangs out with the science geeks. It seems that school stereotypes aren’t what they were (with Tatum nicely blaming Glee for this odd turn of events).
The school stuff is well handled and there are some funny scenes. The laughs become less frequent in the final third and the drugs busting storyline resolves in a fairly stupid manner – like the film Pineapple Express, this starts with plenty of good laughs, but it does fall away towards the end. The likeable co-stars, however, just about save the film and it is mostly good fun. A sequel is already in the works so expect to see Hill and Tatum heading to college soon.