21 Jump Street

EntertainmentMoviesMusicJonah HillStep Brothers (movie)Channing TatumAlan Arkin

It’s not like I thought Jonah Hill would come off an Oscar nominated performance in Moneyball (it wasn’t deserved), and start doing serious roles. This is the perfect vehicle for him. He wrote, produced, and starred in this film that takes its name from the TV show, but is nothing like it. It’s just a wacky comedy in The Other Guys style (which only had a few laughs, too).

 

I’m not one of those stuffy critics that only likes French films and hates silly comedies. I loved Step Brothers. Heck, I even enjoyed Project X from a few weeks ago.

 

Now, there’s a party scene in this that rivals that. It has a few funny moments. And sure, I laughed at a scene with various “explosions” during a car chase. I laughed when Ice Cube yelled at the rookies that showed up at the undercover unit on 21 Jump Street. I even smiled when they played an N.W.A. song (the band Cube was in). I just don’t think five laughs and a few smiles, is a high ratio when there’s a joke they’re attempting every 10 seconds.

 

There’s a cute scene where a police captain (Nick Offerman) jokes about crap that’s recycled, saying that the program was tried once before and reviving it shows a distinct lack of imagination. Those winks at the audience would’ve been welcomed and could’ve worked; if they were doing this self-aware, offbeat humor where they break the wall and have fun with these gags.

 

Part of the problem these types of movies have (I’m referring to Kick-Ass and The Other Guys), is that when you lampoon something, you can’t become the type of buddy-cop movie you’re making fun of. I wouldn’t care about that, if it were funny. It just wasn’t, and it baffles me that the audience and critics all seem to think it was.

 

Channing Tatum, perfectly cast as the dumb jock turned dumb cop, is the partner of Hill. We get the unfunny scene of Hill asking a girl to prom, while trying hard to look like Eminem. A decade later they’re at the police academy; and much like how Richard Gere and David Keith helped each other in An Officer and a Gentleman – a friendship is formed.

When they imagine being cops like something out of a Bruce Willis movie, you laugh at the visual of them bicycling around a park on patrol. Unfortunately, nothing else funny happens in that 15 minute scene. I can think of one scene in So I Married an Axe Murderer, where Anthony LaPaglia is yelling at Alan Arkin about how police work isn’t as exciting as in the movies. He explains how he always wanted to “hang from that thing on the helicopter as it’s flying away. You know that thing?” To which Arkin replies, in that straight-man voice he’s famous for “Oh yes, I know that thing.”

That is funnier than all the jokes in this movie combined!

 

It’s a shame the movie didn’t work, because they have a few interesting premises going on. The fact that the nerd is now the cool one in school and the dumb jock starts to feel alienated and left out. Even when they arrive on campus, there’s a slightly amusing scene where Tatum punches a gay, African-American student. The explanation on why he’s not racist or homophobic is fun for a few seconds.

When I see Rob Riggle in small roles (the angry guy yelling “Catalina Wine Mixer” in Step Brothers, and the tazing cop in Hangover), I always wished he’d get bigger parts. In this, he plays a tough P.E. teacher that gets annoying quick. There’s a scene where the main characters are tripping out on drugs while he’s yelling at them. It’s the most unfunny drug tripping scene ever filmed.

It was weird watching an actor that looked exactly like James Franco, only to find in the closing credits, it’s his brother.

There’s a scene I thought was horrible, that the crowd howled at. It had graphics on the screen showing the various stages this new, dangerous drug takes you. Nothing about those scenes worked, although the graphics in Scott Pilgrim vs the World were amazing, and in the last Harold & Kumar they were fun.

It blows my mind that more people didn’t see the amazing romantic comedy Friends with Kids. The critics weren’t so kind to that movie, and they strangely enough, liked this garbage.

I’m being generous giving this movie 1 ½ stars out of 5 -- half a star because they got Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh to do the music.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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