Tuesday, September 16, 2014

MOVIE REVIEWS: 21 JUMP STREET

March 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s funny. That’s the two-word consensus of just about every newspaper film critic in the nation’s largest markets. Each has his/her own variation of stating that, some more enthusiastically than others, but there’s no denying that it’s one of the best-reviewed movies of the year. In particular, critics are praising the performances of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as two undercover police officers sent back to high school to catch druggies. “Though Tatum is rock hard and Hill is squishy soft, both bring a kind of vulnerability to their characters that makes whatever mayhem they are up to OK,” writes Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times. “Tatum and Hill are totally winning,” says Joe Neumaier in the New York Daily News. What? The two actors don’t look like teenagers, you say? Well, observes Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal, that’s “a situation Michael Bacall’s clever script addresses frequently by noting its patent absurdity.” Likewise, Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times observes: “It often strikes me that the actors in high school movies look too old. But [the Hill and Tatum characters] look really too old, and the movie isn’t shy about pointing that out. Indeed, one of the pleasures of 21 Jump Street is that the screenplay by Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill is happy to point out all of its improbabilities; the premise is preposterous to begin with, and they run with that.” Of course, the original television show with the same title was not funny. But, says A.O. Scott in the New York Times, there is nevertheless “a genetic connection between that show and this movie. On TV 21 Jump Street was an hourlong youth-targeted Fox prime-time offering that mixed whimsy, emotion and public-service-announcement sobriety as it confronted social ills like bullying, bigotry and drug abuse. The movie takes aggressive satirical aim at exactly this kind of piety without risking true offensiveness.” But who would ever have thunk that a movie based on that old TV series would ever garner such effusive reviews? Well, Peter Hartlaub in the San Francisco Chronicle hints at the reason: “The film is even better,” he writes, “if you come in with no spoilers and low expectations.” And Kyle Smith in the New York Post has few reservations about it at all, calling it flat-out “the funniest movie I’ve seen in more than a year.”