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Wednesday, 28 March 2012

21 Jump Street Review (4/5)

A true sequel to the classic 80s US TV show?
I like comedies like 21 Jump Street- it's great to see films which take themselves in such a lighthearted vein, their only purpose to entertain with some mild laughs and a neat storyline. While Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum's comedy reinterpretation of a classic 1980s American cop show is hardly what you might call groundbreaking, it's packing some good gags and just a soulful heart underneath all of its bravado and knowing stereotypes (Ice Cube gets a particularly grin-inducing line about stereotypical angry black police captains). Barely a moment goes by when the writers of the script aren't playing on the differences between high school in the 80s and modern-day slang, colloquialisms and mannerisms, something which resonates for me as a teenager who witnesses much of the things which are picked up on firsthand. Indeed, I would say that the '15' rating the movie has acquired is spot-on, allowing for a specific audience with enough hindsight of the current situation to understand the humour the makers and director have gone for here. Adults (particularly those fond of language studies) may well find some fun here too with the modern retrospective gags, but I'd say it's teens around the age of 16-18 who will really get the maximum enjoyment factor out of this. In terms of the cast consistency, barring a few woefully corny portrayals of teenagers at the college, it's a pretty likable bunch of actors- Hill and Tatum in particular shine in their lead roles as undercover secret agents, and there are a few cameos from stars of The Hangover and...well, I don't want to spoil one of the best celebrity cameos of recent times, but it'll have you heading straight to the web to find out this man's intriguing connection to the original series which even I knew nothing of! Of course, as storylines go this is pretty sub-standard stuff that you've seen before elsewhere, so a lot of the film's enjoyment rests on the infrequently repetitive jokes and farcical elements. Thankfully, though, for once there are very few gags which are too drawn-out, and seeing as trailers have held back a fair bit on revealing the jokes, there are a few great surprise laughs along the way. My main criticism other than the plot just has to be that at times, it feels as if the film could have been a little more daring with its gags, but feared doing so in case of them leaking in the promotional campaign. Other than those shortcomings and the predictable endings, though, 21 Jump Street is one of the best comedies I've seen in a fair while now, a genuine surprise hit which I recommend you see over the holidays.

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