In this frenzied and seemingly unstoppable world of movie remakes, I am calling a new rule. All remakes now must have enough whim to make fun of the fact that they are remakes. Without this self deprecating humor, remakes, reboots and reimaginings are useless wastes of time.
2009’s Star Trek reboot managed to throw a bit into the mix and therefore was a success. The film version of 21 Jump Street does it too.
The slim-fasted Jonah Hill stars alongside Channing Tatum as police officers in an undercover unit featuring young looking and acting officers, allowing them to pose as high schoolers. Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) assignment is to track down the dealers and suppliers of a new drug that’s popular with teens.
While their experience of re-learning high school etiquette is amusing, some of the real laughter comes from when the film is mocking itself. A speech to Hill & Jenko from their Deputy Chief (Nick Offerman) about rehashing old ideas may be one of the funnier comic bits I’ll see this year.
What makes the character’s high school experience quite entertaining is that you feel their experience from a teenager’s perspective. Just about every single adult in the film could care less about themselves, their situation or how any of the teens feels. That comic disconnect carries a lot of weight.
There are countless subtle references to 80’s action films that again amuse, but don’t necessarily make the film. Ice Cube, who in his younger days notoriously rapped “F*** Tha Police,” now serves as their stereotypical angry Police Chief. Again amusing, but not fall down funny.
Fans of the original TV show won’t find much that looks too familiar, sans a couple special appearances that you need to keep your eyes peeled for. Throwing little bones like that to your dedicated audience base goes a long way. Go see this movie.