21 Jump Street
When former high-school enemies, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are reunited during police training they discover that each possess the strengths to compensate for the other’s weaknesses – leading them to pair up and form one of the funniest buddy-cop partnerships in recent memory. Following graduation and enrolment into the police force, the pair is selected to go undercover as high-school students, intent on infiltrating a drug operation – though things don’t go as smoothly as the two initially planned.
The picture cleverly avoids the stereotypical filmic representations of American high-schools; where the cool kids are jocks swamped by cheerleaders, and at the opposite end of the spectrum lay the nerds jovially hacking away in the chemistry lab. Michael Ball and Jonah Hill, who co-wrote the film, present a much more observant and nuanced representation of high-school’s social dynamics; the cool kids no longer seeking to solely bully, allowing for a much more original and engaging plot and character study to surface.
The quintessential high school reunion scenario turns their original experience on its head as Schmidt soars to the peak of popularity and Jenko winds up languishing amongst the nerds. The new social order is amusingly exemplified by Jenko, who finds himself out of the ‘cool’ social circle – despite originally being the ‘prom king’ type – and sorely blaming his role reversal on all things Glee. Tatum, allowed to run wild with his character, shows unexpected versatility as an actor, navigating away from the romance of Dear John (2010) and action of Fighting (2009) to display a natural capability of producing many laughs. Fresh from the disappointment of The Sitter (2011), Hill returns with a strong comedic performance harking back to the charm and humour that brought him fame in Superbad (2007).
So many jokes are thrown out that occasionally the narrative appears to become a little loose – almost as if some comedy vignettes were stitched together. Yet while the jokes come thick and fast, most are undeniably funny and the simplistic yet highly entertaining plot is enough to keep you on board. The comedy varies though remains consistently funny; its slapstick, witty, and absurd rolled into one maniacal movie.