Fri 16 Mar 2012
It’s no secret that the thought of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum leading the way on a film adaptation of “21 Jump Street” made me ill. For years there have been a never-ending parade of 80’s TV and film projects being re-booted/re-imagined/re-hashed, nearly all of which have felt like spiritual kicks to the groin. “Jump Street” (that what’s the cool kids call it) is only the latest in a long string of lazy ideas, where a nostalgic property has its script shuffled together, run through a computer algorithm, and typed by blind monkeys in order to produce something investors can make money on.
Now, if you’re under 25 or over 40, I doubt any of my ranting matters. More than likely, you never knew the show existed/didn’t watch it/quickly determined it wasn’t for you. For all of those people, chances are … and this really, REALLY hurts to admit … chances are you’re going to like what Hill, Tatum and their cohorts came up with.
First of all, it’s directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the writers behind “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and written by Michael Bacall, the writer behind “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World“. They know funny. The film quickly disperses with back story and gets us right into the undercover portion of the plot, which allows for a number of great young actors like Dave Franco and Brie Larsen to join up with more established comedians like Rob Riggle and Chris Parnell. Even Ice Cube, playing the captain of Jump Street, captured the ideals being brought to the table. To its credit, the film knows they’re playing with stereotypes and borrowed source material; there is full acknowledgement of this notion and it eases the sting for fans somewhat.
So if you saw the trailers and are all giddy with excitement, by all means go and see this film. HOWEVER … if you’re like me and catch yourself singing the TV theme song now and again. Or if you’re like me and you own any/all of the series on DVD (or VHS if you’re even more awesome). Or if you’re like me and even find glee in the Richard Grieco era of the show. Well … you might want to think seventeen or eighteen times about whether you need to see this movie.
I say all this not because the movie isn’t funny. It is. I laughed out loud multiple times. (Wow it hurts to say that.) And there’s a distinct possibility I’d have let most of the changes made to the format go … except there’s one very, very, very, VERY unforgivable scene. And It hurts even more that I can’t say what it is because it would be a major spoiler. But if you trust me at all with these things (and you should), true “21 Jump Street” fans should just stay at home and re-watch a few episodes. Let everyone else watch the movie and not realize the injustice perpetrated on film; made worse because of the people who agreed to let it happen.
So while this isn’t truly destroying the legacy of the source material, like “The Green Hornet” … it’s more … urinating on the “21 Jump Street” legacy. A light spray, free of asparagus, but it’s still a golden shower. I will separate my seething anger long enough to give the movie a passing 3 out of 5 rating, however. Putting aside the metaphorical middle finger to the show, anyone not holding on as tight as myself will probably like this quite a bit. As with most comedies these days, the trailer gives you the best indication of the type of comedy you’re in for and if it appealed to you, then you know what to do. Meanwhile, I’m going to curl up into the fetal position for a bit … it’ll make me feel better about what I saw and what I just had to write.