21 Jump Street (2012)
I turned eighteen in 1987. This was the year that 21 Jump Street, the television series, began and also marked the steadfast and sometimes meteoric rise to stardom of one Johnny Depp. The television series lasted for four years and after that, you could be forgiven for thinking you would never hear from it again. And if it wasn't for Jonah Hill, this probably would have been the case.
Personally, being the age I was, and not living in the US, this franchise skirted around my interest circle without so much as a passing acknowledgement. In short, whilst I had heard of the show, in name only, you could have written what I knew about it on the back of a stamp with a bit of space to spare.
Jonah Hill was a little more enthusiastic and pushed to have this version made, going so far as to co-write and star in it. Having no real frame of reference, it would be hard for me to complare the television series with this effort, which may or may not be bad thing.
What I will say is that the last thing I watched that had Jonah Hill in it was Moneyball. I really loved his performance in it and was relieved he had moved away from crass, simple comedy. Then he was in 'The Sitter', which to this day, I have yet to put myself through. Here, he joins Channing Tatum, last seen in The Vow and Haywire, who again chooses a role that doesn't unduly challenge him.
Buddy cop comedies never augur well to be honest and too often I find myself rolling my eyeballs in the back of their sockets, blowing out huge puffs air, animatedly asking, 'why this again?' Beverly Hills Cop also featured some inept law enforcers, but with the additional benefit of Eddie Murphy. Lethal Weapon even had some drama and enough acting smarts in Gibson and Glover to actually make it essential viewing. This effort is unaspiring nonsense, really. The story will already be familiar to some. Two young and admittedly useless police officers are assigned to work undercover at a high school in order to ascertain the suppliers and dealers of a new drug that is rife in the school and has caused the death of at least one student.
Ordered by their Captain, Ice Cube, to not have sex with the students or the teachers, pointedly at Tatum, the opportunity for causing mayhem is not lost on either of them. It opens up a plethora of possible plotlines and most of these will be appreciated by those that are still in school presently, but think it would be really cool to go back as an adult and have the benefit of experience.
It's a mish-mash of sometimes funny gags intertwined into a mostly disappointing narrative. This is not funny enough throughout to make up for its shortcomings in storytelling. Granted, netiher Lethal Weapon nor Beverly Hills Cop had brilliant plots, but I couldn't help but wonder if the twentysomethings of today will look at this when they are fortysomething with the same wistful admiration as forty-year-olds appreciate the work of Richard Donner etc, back in the eighties.
Overall, it's a fair stab at buddy comedy, but Hill is the standout of the two and overpowers Tatum really in most departments, except for the one most likely to "look buff". Finally, watch out for a surprising and welcome cameo in a cluttered third act, though blink and you'll probably miss it.