That was too easy. But I’m too lazy to make this really challenging right now.
The best way I have found to describe 21 Jump Street to my friends is “frentic.” Which is fitting because this reboot of sorts comes from screenwriter Michael Bacall, who has also written Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Project X. I can’t speak for the latter because I haven’t seen it yet, but the strength of 21 Jump Street and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is that there is a lot going on onscreen, but the action is always easy to follow. And both movies are gloriously self-aware.
I mean self-aware in the fact that directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller know exactly what they’re doing with this movie. This is a familiar property, but the filmmakers refuse to let this movie drift into tepid adaptation territory. And it never ignores an opportunity to make fun of itself.
The movie also succeeds because of its cast. Jonah Hill is fine here, but the real standout is Channing Tatum, whose comedic timing has obviously been underutilized for his entire movie career. Note to Tatum: please do more comedies like this.
Dave Franco, as a hip, drug-dealing high schooler, also impresses. I don’t think he has the acting range of his older brother, but I have high hopes for this Franco. Maybe someone should cast him in a romantic comedy soon? I think he could charm his way into that.
The bottom line is that 21 Jump Street is a self-aware, raunchy comedy that is a lot better than it should have been. Gather up a group of friends and check it out.