“21 Jump Street” Movie Review


     When you see a movie like “21 Jump Street”, you have to decide something I think is pretty important.  Do you look at it as a film grounded in some semblance of today’s realities or do you take it in as more of an action fantasy?  I say this because with the issues we have going today in the world of policing, it strikes me as odd that many of the people who will laugh at what they see on screen are also the ones who are quick to point out what’s wrong with policing at the local level and beyond.  “21 Jump Street” quickly reminded me of Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell’s “The Other Guys” in both tone and the far fetched antics of the film’s main characters.  In that film, Will Ferrell is supposed to be a real cop, yet he fires his weapon in the office and is punished by being made to carry a wooden gun.  In “21 Jump Street”, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum ham up their first bust by firing celebration shots in the air and dry humping their handcuffed suspect.  Their punishment?  An undercover assignment in a unit designed to infiltrate high school drug rings.  I’m not sure what fantasy world they live in where these two goof balls would essentially receive more responsibility for their wrong doings, but I suppose if you put this crap in the same realm as your average “Transformers” film than anything can be possible.

     In a revival of the 80s television show that ignited the career of Johnny Depp, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs”) attempt the standard reboot in a film that is part buddy action comedy and part high school romp.  We first meet Jonah Hill’s Schmidt and Channing Tatum’s Jenko while they’re still in high school and are both not going to their senior prom for different reasons.  Schmidt is the nerd no one likes who is constantly made fun of.  Jenko is the popular jock who is struggling to graduate.  The film wastes no time here and puts both of these guys in the police academy where they become friends and draw on each other’s strengths to succeed.  They become Police Officers and are immediately assigned to park patrol on bicycles.

     After their first bust leads to the charges being dropped due to Jenko not knowing and therefore not reading the suspect his Miranda rights (from what is shown on screen there would’ve been no need for an interrogation so in reality the charges would not have been dropped, but I digress.), they are directed to 21 Jump St., which is an address of an undercover police program designed to send younger looking officers into high schools.  Schmidt and Jenko, as presented in the funniest manner possible, then steal drugs from the station evidence room, take drugs themselves, give said stolen drugs plus alcohol to underage kids in parties they throw all in an attempt to get in good with the high school drug dealers and bust them.  The film’s plot is a joke and the mockery it makes of the police profession is baffling.

     This brings me to the ever confusing role of Captain Dickson played by rapper Ice Cube.  My question is, what is Ice Cube doing in a film like this?  Is he playing along with the police mockery or does he really believe this is how cops act?  Just a few weeks ago, I saw him playing a hard nosed District Attorney Investigator in the film “Rampart” where he was following around Woody Harrelson’s corrupt cop character like a blood hound.  In “21 Jump Street”, he frames the arrest report after his two cops catch the bad guys only after committing crimes that would’ve landed both of them in prison.  Based on his stated views on this subject, his appearance in a film like this makes no sense to me.

     “21 Jump Street” breaks no new ground and isn’t even mildly funny, thanks mostly to the fact the trailer contains all of the film’s funniest bits.  The reality is these two boneheads wouldn’t qualify to volunteer on a police department much less actually work for one.  If they squeaked through the cracks, they would now be fired and in prison.  As I said, suspend total disbelief and in some alternate reality perhaps you find something here, but I don’t see how anyone can laugh at something we certainly do not condone in real life.  GRADE: F