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21 Jump Street (2012)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/26/2012
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/24/2012
When remakes are discussed, the same topic inevitably comes up -- Why redo a classic or well-respected piece instead of something which could have been better the second time around? The kernel of this argument state that Hollywood should take a movie or TV show which had a good central idea and work from that, instead of trying to recreate or update an entire entity. This approach can work for things which actually were well-liked in their time and 21 Jump Street is the perfect example of this.
Schmidt (Jonah Hill) was a loser in high school, while Jenko (Channing Tatum) was the jock who picked on him. Years later, they reconnect at the police academy and, as high school is behind them, become friends and eventually partners. The problem is that they aren't very good at their jobs -- Schmidt fears confrontation and violence and Jenko isn't smart enough to remember the basics. Thus, they are assigned to a special unit in which young-looking officers are used to infiltrate high schools to fight crime. The duo are assigned to a school which is having issues with a new designer drug. They assume that this will be easy, as they've already been through high school. However, what they find is a shocking, alien world in which the smart kids are cool and bullying is frowned upon. As they attempt to adjust, Schmidt finds himself attracted to a student named Molly (Brie Larson), while Jenko recruits the science nerds to help him. All the while, the drugs continue to circulate and time is running out for the guys to make a bust.
Despite the fact that I'm part of Generation X, I've never seen an episode of 21 Jump Street. I had no interest in show about pretty boys on a fledgling network, so I avoided it. Similarly, I'm no fan of Jonah Hill or Channing Tatum. I typically find Hill to be incredibly annoying and Tatum looks like he can't do math. Movies based on television series have a spotty history at best -- from the highs of Dragnet and The Addams Family to the lows of pretty much everything else. The screenplay for 21 Jump Street was written by Michael Bacall, who also wrote the abysmalProject X. Therefore, I didn't have very high hopes for this movie.
But somehow, like a loopy recipe, these various elements came together to make a very entertaining movie. While Bacall is credited with the screenplay, he and Hill share story credit. I'm not sure who came up with the clever approach to the material, but kudos to them. Instead of trying to be a literal updating of the show, the movie simply takes the kernel of the main idea and does its own thing. So, like the show, we get "adult" police officers who are assigned to pose as high school students...and they have a very angry African-American boss (Ice Cube). The other brilliant idea here is the generational gap between Schmidt & Jenko and the students they are assigned to investigate. Despite the fact that Schmidt and Jenko are only a few years older, they don't understand these kids who have embraced conservationism, activism, and free love. This alien territory makes their jobs even harder and leads to some of the movie's funniest moments.
Something must be going right here, as Hill and Tatum are perfect in their roles. In the past, Hill has been cast as characters who were inexplicably cocky or needlessly rude. Here, he plays Schmidt as an intelligent guy who has no self-confidence and often cowers in the face of danger. Tatum is playing a character who is the exact opposite -- he's as a box of rocks and often charges into action. These are the roles which they were born to play. For once, I believed the character which Tatum was playing and I didn't find Hill annoying. Even more unbelievable, these two very different actors actually had on-screen chemistry. Of course, it's Ice Cube (someone else I typically don't like) who steals the show as the foul-mouthed Captain Dickson.
Of course, the most important thing about 21 Jump Street is that it's funny, and we get a variety of comedic styles here. There are the expected gross-out jokes, but there's also a surprising combination of physical comedy and very clever dialogue. Many of the funny lines come from Jenko's misunderstanding of a situation or Schmidt's rational observation of something weird. The pacing is good and the balance between funny moments and the action scenes works. Did I mention that this movie is from the directors ofCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs? Yes, the surprises just keep coming from this film. The bottom-line is that those who worked on 21 Jump Street didn't hope that the title alone would carry the movie. They created a clever and funny film which works so well on its own, we almost forget to look for celebrity cameos.
21 Jump Street brings us the most quiet sirens ever on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc carries an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing on overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good -- just check out Schmidt's Peter Pan outfit -- and the image is never overly dark or bright. The picture shows a nice amount of depth, as the actors are distinctly separate from the backgrounds and the image is highly detailed as well. The Disc contains a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.7 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The music in the film delivers thumping bass at times, which makes the subwoofer very happy. Likewise, the two explosions in the film pack a punch. Crowd scenes deliver solid surround sound effects and the stereo effects show very good speaker separation.
The 21 Jump Street Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY with Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who are joined by Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. The Disc contains twenty DELETED SCENES which run about 30 minutes. This is almost like a whole other movie. Some of these are simply moments cut from existing scenes, while others are completely new. There is some good stuff here, such as when Schmidt gets caught up in high school gossip or the cut lectures from Ice Cube. It's obvious that these were cut for time, but some would have made the movie even better. We get a 5-minute GAG REEL. "Cube-O-Rama" (2 minutes) is a reel of additional moments from Ice Cube which feature more of his ranting. "Back to School" (8 minutes) is a featurette which focuses on the film's themes of the main characters getting the chance to do high school over again. There is a discussion of how high school is so different today. "Brothers in Arms" (6 minutes) looks at Tatum and Hill, most notably their chemistry on set and Hill's reluctance to do stunts. The most anticipated cameo in the movie is examined in "Johnny Depp on Set" (5 minutes). It contains comments from the other actors, but not Depp himself. "The Rob Riggle Show" (9 minutes) allows the actor to talk his character, while his fellow actors tell us how funny he is. "Peter Pan on the Freeway" (4 minutes) takes us on-location to see the shooting of the freeway chase scene.
Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long