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21 Jump Street

Review by Anthony Morris

21 Jump Street

21 Jump Street

21 Jump Street

Has it really been that long since we had a movie version of a TV show that didn't take the original seriously? 

Because that's the big sigh of relief about the 21 Jump Street movie : it's the first big screen adaptation in a while that doesn't treat the source material as anything special. 

Not that it makes fun of the original either.

When you get a joke about the police force reviving an old program because the guys upstairs have no clue what they're doing so they just bring back old ideas and hope people are stupid enough to go along with it, you know you're watching a film that isn't going to turn into a hard hitting drama about cops working undercover at high schools.

That'd be the utterly forgotten Mod Squad movie.

At high school Schmidt (Jonah Hill) was an Eminem-wannabe who choked when talking to girls : Jenko (Channing Tatum) was the jock with the charm but not the smarts. 

When they joined the police force they helped each other out, became best buddies, then partners on bike (as in push-bike) patrol, and still never quite added up to one good cop. 

Cue the 21 Jump Street program, putting young-looking cops undercover in high schools. 

Cue Ice Cube as their angry black boss, delivering some of the funniest angry rants of recent times. 

They get shipped off to a high school to investigate a new kind of drug that's driving the kids nuts, promptly get their cover stories mixed up so Schmidt is the jock and Jenko the science geek, and from there try to solve the case by becoming cool and partying hard. 

The jokes are mostly good rather than great (the duo's drug freak-out excepted, as it's hilarious) but Hill and Tatum have excellent chemistry here and there's just enough unexpected moments to keep things fresh. 

It does sag a little around the middle after a really strong start, but it picks up in time for a cameo-packed conclusion (yes, that is original Jump Street star Dustin Nyugen on a TV screen) that brings both the action and the laughs. 

It's hard to underestimate the charm generated by the Tatum / Hill team-up : a sequel to this may not be the best idea ever, but putting them together in another film down the line certainly is.

4 out of 5

21 Jump Street
Australian release: 15th March, 2012
Official Site: 21 Jump Street
Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Rob Riggle, Ice Cube
Director: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

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