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Movie Review: "21 Jump Street"

“21 Jump Street” (Sony Pictures)

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum make a hilarious crime fighting duo in “21 Jump Street,” the movie based on the Johnny Depp TV series of the 1980’s. Both actors show why they are rising stars in Hollywood with their deft portrayals of two policemen who go undercover at a local high school. Hill co-wrote the script and didn’t hog all the laughs for himself; he included some great lines in the movie for Tatum. The film overall is coarse and gross but when these things are prevalent the movie better be funny. “21 Jump Street” is.

In high school Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) were on opposite ends of the popularity spectrum. Schmidt was the less popular nerd while Jenko was the good-natured jock. The two were not friends then. A few years later they meet up again at the Police Academy where they are in training to become policemen. They form a pact whereby Schmidt helps Jenko with the academics and Jenko helps Schmidt with the physical requirements.

On one of their first cases the two are assigned to 21Jump Street where the leader is Captain Dickson (Ice Cube). There they are given their assignment to pose as high school students and infiltrate a school where a new drug is being sold. The main distributor is a quirky teen named Eric (Dave Franco).

The rest of the movie deals with the two cops clumsily making headway on the drug ring. They seem to succeed in spite of themselves, but this allows for plenty of crude jokes and funny situations. One scene has the two policemen throwing a party where they serve alcohol and drugs to their underage guests. Scenes such as this create a world for teens where nobody ever gets arrested for alcohol or drugs.

Hill is still in slimmed down form and his comic timing is as good as ever. You expect him to be funny and he is. Tatum is new to comedy and his ability to create humor is a surprise. He has a dense, goofy manner in this film that just makes the comedy routines involving him better than they should be. This opens up a whole new career path for him.

The movie is rated R for profanity, violence and crude humor.

Johnny Depp, Holly Robinson and Peter Deluise starred in the original TV series and they make cameo appearances here. Since most members of the audience for this film will be too young to remember the series the subtle references will be lost on them.

“Bridesmaids” showed you can be crude and funny at the same time. “21 Jump Street” took a page from that playbook and made sure the laughs were on the screen in this film too. Hill and Tatum compliment each other’s styles and the audience is the winner for their efforts.

I scored “21 Jump Street” a leaping 7 out of 10.

Photo courtesy of: Sony Pictures

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