Film Review: 21 Jump Street

With its self-flagellation and wry nods, 21 Jump Street is surprisingly enjoyable. Viewers looking for a decent action comedy won’t go far wrong with Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s film.

Schmidt and Jenko become best friends while training to be police officers, despite their differences at high school. After a rough start to their careers, the pair are sent undercover to pose as students at a high school. They must try to infiltrate a drugs ring whilst blending in with fellow students…

A film remake of a 1980s television series shouldn’t be good. However, it is the fact that the screenwriters know this and have carved their script accordingly, that makes 21 Jump Street so great. The plot of the film is similar to one featured in the television show. What the film version does is provide amusement and references in spades. The level of self-awareness is definitely a positive, as it provides several laughs.

21 Jump Street flips high school conventions to modernise depictions. This is a wise move, offering a more realistic portrayal of high school hierarchy. It is also integral to the narrative, and aids in character development. Many viewers in their 20s and over will be able to identify with the protagonists’ confusion over what is now cool.

Nods to the 1980s work well throughout the film. The use of N.W.A’s ‘Straight Outta Compton’ is a nice touch, with former group member Ice Cube starring in the film. The connection with the eighties is also apparent with the type of antagonists that appear; they seem very much a throwback to this decade.

Casting and performances in 21 Jump Street are great. Jonah Hill, who co-wrote the story, is well suited to the role of Schmidt, while Channing Tatum is surprisingly adept in his comedic role. Solid support is provided by Ice Cube, Brie Larson and Caroline Aaron. The film also boasts good production values and a decent soundtrack.

21 Jump Street is the type of film that the majority of viewers will find hugely entertaining. The film offers a gregarious tone and plenty of laughs.