21 Jump Street, 2012.
Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
Starring Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Ellie Kemper, Rob Riggle and Ice Cube.
Two cops go undercover in a high-school to crack a synthetic drug ring.
The churning out of yet another unwanted and needless remake of an 80s TV show continues with the release of 21 Jump Street. The show is pretty much only remembered for being the launchpad for Johnny Depp’s career but you need know nothing about the show if you intend on seeing this, as the filmmakers have taken a familiar title and that is where similarities end. If you are intent on seeing the film however, I would recommend you don’t as it is largely a complete bore.
Jonah Hill is not funny. He simply is not funny. That fact is crucial as this is supposed to be a comedy, yet the lead star cannot make you laugh and his writing (he is has story credits) relies on constant swearing to paper over the cracks of there being nothing else in his ‘locker’. His breakout role in Superbad was amusing, but seeing the same old routine time after time is simply boring and dull; there is nothing funny about a fat young man swearing for 90 minutes and knowing he’s been paid a fortune to do so. To make matters doubly worse, he is paired with the charisma vacuum that is Channing Tatum – a man so unbelievably dull and wooden he makes Vin Diesel look like a genuine talent. He delivers each and every line with such a lack of belief he may as well have the script in his hand on camera.
The tone of the script is all over the place. It starts as a parody on 2005 where wearing one strap of your rucksack was cool, but in 2012 everyone is ‘two strapping it’. It never keeps these nuances and observations up, rather ditching them for fights and swearing. Nor does the film keep up the only genuinely witty set-up of Hollywood lacking ideas and creativity by rehashing old material – this is mentioned only once and never referenced again which only goes to show the filmmakers could not write anything else to back it up, so in comes the fights and swearing again. The film soon moves in to action territory and takes itself way too seriously by trying to make us care about anyone involved, yet the action is not directed or staged well, so it just ends up as another woefully inadequate series of events. It’s half as funny as The Other Guys, which in itself was at best 3 stars.
As a side note, the day after watching this nonsense I revisited Midnight Run for the millionth time. Now there is a film with even more swearing, violence and action than 21 Jump Street, but with a script and screen talent that makes it endless watchable and consistently funny – everything that 99.99% of modern action comedies fail to do.
Flickering Myth Rating: Film * / Movie **