I love being surprised by a film. I stand by the fact that I will pretty much watch anything, regardless of director/actor/genre and with my girlfriend getting into films as much as I am now, that sometimes means sitting and watching something I usually wouldn’t. It is pretty hard to go into a film without any preconceived ideas. The perfect example of this will be Dark Knight Rises. I’ve written before why I think that my own ideas of how good this film should be will probably mean I don’t enjoy it as much as I should. It has worked the other way though, there are plenty of films I’ve started watching and ended up enjoying much more than I thought I would.
This brings us to 21 Jump Street. I saw the trailer for the film and thought it looked good. There was plenty in the trailer that made me laugh and the concept was one that had plenty going for it. I did have a slight concern that I had seen all the jokes or at least the best parts of the film in the trailer but went with a relatively open mind… and I loved it!
The film is fun. That is the best description. It isn’t trying to be anything special. It has a key storyline and does what it can with that. The concept isn’t exactly original (the film is based on an old tv show anyway) but the film makers are aware of this and even play up to this fact. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are brilliant as the mismatched stars and from the moment they are on screen together you can tell they’re having fun. This means that the chemistry between the two is full of sparks and wit and some of the lines seem so genuine and quick that they have to be improvised in some cases.
In fact Canning Tatum needs a special mention here because he was one of the funniest things in the film. The part where the two take the new “designer drug” they are trying to stop and his interaction with the “nerds” are so well acted and against his usual type/role that I thought it was hilarious. As an actor, he really has gone up in my estimation.
One of the things that make this film such a success is the way it embraces how cliché the main story is. The film is very aware of how many times this has been done before and play on that fact. There is plenty of role reversal, playing against type and in-jokes to keep everyone entertained and keep a lot of the film feeling “fresh.” I also think there is plenty of different jokes for everyone, from gross-out to physical comedy and even some great surprises, especially to any fans of the original show.
It isn’t perfect, the beginning is skimmed over so quickly to get to the main body of the story that you could have very easily shown the trailer for the film instead of the first ten minutes and got the same effect. The film isn’t trying to tell a Citizen Kane style story though and the pace of the film and the frequency of jokes means that you soon forget any short-comings.
I haven’t seen a film that has kept me this entertained and made me laugh as much in a long time. It isn’t trying anything new but it doesn’t have to. It is taking a tv show that had a great concept, with plenty of potential for jokes and story, and made a film that is funny, fast paced and entertaining and that is the key thing.
Overall, I loved this film. I haven’t laughed so much and been so entertained in a long time. Jonah Hill is giving the same quality of performance that made Superbad a success and Channing Tatum is as funny as his comedy co-star. The concept isn’t new, there are plenty of clichés but there are enough jokes and enough pace that none of that really matters.
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)