21 Jump Street, a comedy starring Oscar nominee (yeah, he’s an Oscar nominee now) Jonah Hill and that guy seemingly every girl in my ninth-grade class had a crush on, Channing Tatum, was made with a surprising amount of intelligence. I have to admit I was skeptical when I first heard about it…a movie based on the hilariously cheesy TV show starring a young Johnny Depp that most members of its target audience have never heard of? How funny can it be? However, I was convinced of its potential value when I asked my fellow Her Campus staffers at our last meeting what movie I should review for next week and the room practically exploded with enthusiasm for it. I can report back that I indeed chuckled all the way through it and that it did not commit a lot of the usual sins movies involving teenagers do, despite the fact my viewing experience narrowly missed being ruined by being forced to see the previews for That’s My Boy and American Reunion. However, was it so good that it went above and beyond most decent comedies like Mean Girls or Little Miss Sunshine did? With the exception of including the astoundingly attractive Dave Franco (James’s little brother; apparently hotness runs in their family), I would say no.
21 Jump Street focuses on two young cops named Schmidt (played by Hill) and Jenko (played by Tatum). Schmidt and Jenko went to the same high school, where they used to be enemies because Jenko, who was popular, picked on Schmidt, who was considered a loser. However, when they go through police training together, they become friends when Schmidt, the brains of the duo, agrees to help Jenko, the brawn, with studying for the exam they need to pass in order become official officers. After a failed attempt to make their first arrest due to Schmidt’s lack of bravery and Jenko’s lack of knowledge about the Miranda rights, their boss reassigns them to the station at 21 Jump Street, which is run out of an old Korean church and assigns officers to go undercover and break up criminal activity in high schools, and this is where I’ll leave the plot.
The movie adheres to the number-one rule of comedy, which dictates that every joke must be funny. 21 Jump Street’s jokes are all funny, and I mean genuinely funny, not the kind of funny that elicits “Uh, that wasn’t really funny but I feel an obligation to laugh” type of responses. I have confidence anyone with the slightest sense of humor will be entertained by this movie, and I didn’t even find the jokes to be the best part; you see, 21 Jump Street was actually made with some heart. It contains truly poignant examples of the cruelty of high school and the repercussions it has on those who experience it, and the friendship between Schmidt and Jenko is quite touching for an all-out comedy. Another bonus is that, with the obvious exception of Hill and Tatum, almost all of the actors who the “real” high school students look like they could actually be in high school and not like supermodels hired to play high schoolers. OK, so Dave Franco is an exception, but I would watch Teletubbies if he were in it. One more surprise: Tatum is actually one of the best actors in the movie. He is both funny and good at portraying a former jock still carrying adolescent baggage, proving he is more than just an object of fangirl obsession.
So, is 21 Jump Street worth the bloated price of a ticket? Definitely. See it with a group of friends and enjoy a mirthful evening together. Alas, it is not so great that you should see it more than once, including when it’s out of theaters. It may fulfill all the basic requirements of a good movie, but it does not go beyond them; there is nothing truly exceptional about it. That being said, I almost want to give it an Oscar just for not being as horrendous as That’s My Boy and American Reunion look. Seriously, take my word for it, those movies are going to suck something awful.