No matter what skeptical or incredulous thoughts you might have had when you heard the news that Sony had a) decided to adapt ’80s cult classic “21 Jump Street” into a full-length feature and b) that Jonah Hill would be writing it, I can assure you that all parties involved have pulled off something that is as action-packed as it is hilarious, full of surprises and totally worth your time and money.
Here are five reasons to go see “21 Jump Street” as soon as possible.
The Nostalgia Factor
“Jump Street” is based on a cult classic TV show that ran for five seasons from 1987 to 1991 and was particularly memorable and awesome for those of us coming of age in the late ’80s. It followed a group of undercover cops who posed as high school and college students and featured an attractive group of young actors led by Johnny Depp, Holly Robinson, Peter DeLuise and Richard Grieco. The series succeeded in blending two different television archetypes: the classic cop show and the teen-issue show. The big screen version has kept our favorite elements of the show in the film without being campy, while simultaneously ramping things up to a whole new level where action and comedy are concerned.
It’s Good Teen Fun
We’ve all seen plenty of teen comedies, most of which are bad and forgettable, because they rely too heavily on overused cliches and perfect pretty young things. And while “21 Jump Street” has both of those elements, they work because of the film’s winking, tongue-in-cheek approach to all the classic stereotypes. The popular kids are still beautiful and rule the school, but are now involved with social causes and having a zen-like outlook on life. As such, Hill’s — a Schmidt slightly awkward, unassuming character — is embraced by the cool kids, whereas Tatum’s classically cocky, alpha-male-esque Jenko is shunned.
Action/Comedy Done Right
The action/comedy blend is a tricky one to get right. The action has to be mostly believable, surprising and entertaining but not too over-the-top, and the comedy has to feel natural, not forced, staying genuinely funny and not veering into slapstick territory. “Jump Street” succeeds in blending the action and comedy on all accounts. There are a few over-the-top outrageous moments, of course, but by the time we get to those scenes we’ve already bought into the fact that these two empathetic and likable characters could very well get themselves into the most ridiculous and unpredictable situations imaginable. It’s fun, funny and just works.
Supporting Cast and Cameos
In addition to the great work by our leading men, there are plenty of laughs earned and delivered by the film’s very talented and perfectly-cast group of supporting players. Ice Cube is fantastic as the loud, intense, no-nonsense leader of the undercover program. “Parks and Recreation” scene-stealer Nick Offerman is superb as the boys’ police squadron supervisor, funnyman Rob Riggle kills as an overly energetic and suspicious gym teacher, Dave Franco plays the “too cool kid” with just enough finesse that you don’t totally hate him, Jake Johnson (“New Girl”) is great as the charmingly naive, overly stressed-out principal, and Ellie Kemper (“The Office,” “Bridesmaids”) is hilarious as a young teacher who makes amazing, inappropriate advances toward her student.
This guy! This guy is so much better than we’ve ever given him credit for. For the haters out there, forget what you think you know about Channing Tatum and his acting range, and just sit back and enjoy the awesome ride he takes us on in his first-ever full-on comedic role. For the Tatum fans, get ready to love him even more. There is magic in his method, which in this film involves him playing things mostly straight due to his character’s lack of a lot of common sense, and he earns huge laughs because of it. Everyone I’ve talked to who has also seen the film talks about what an awesome, hilarious surprise Tatum is in a comedy. Bottom line, the man is fun-ny.
Tell us what you think of “Jump Street” in the comments section and on Twitter!