My knowledge of the original 21 Jump Street series is fairly limited. All I knew about it is that this was where Johnny Depp got his start. So this film is being judged by the criteria presented in the film itself.
The basic story follows two police officers, played by Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, who were on opposite ends of the totem pole in high school. They both work together to graduate from the police academy. After they botch their first arrest, they are assigned to the newly revived “Jump Street” program, where officers go undercover as high school students. Their mission: to find the supplier of the mysterious drug “H.F.S.”
Much of what you see in the trailer is essential a cut-down version of the opening scenes of the movie. What isn’t shown in the trailer is how the movie actually makes fun of the fact that it’s a movie based on a television series. It’s pretty blatant in that regard and actually made it enjoyable.
Another thing I liked is that it doesn’t stick to the “popular jock stereotypes” that television and movies of that era used when it portrayed high school. Instead it turns it on it’s head, as it shows how the “old way” of surviving high school is no longer functional, as well as taking a few jabs at Glee.
The film has its goofy moments, and it also has its pretty dramatic moments. However, this isn’t the usual Adam Sandler-styled out of place drama, but actually progress more organically as the characters continue their investigation.
There’s actually a good degree of awesomeness that occurs, and not in the shoehorned sense where there’s a fire-fight, but more in the sense that we see them do some actual detective work.
What I also liked is how the film also made fun of typical action movie clichés. There’s a bit of a running gag where there are instances where you think something’s going to explode during a chase scene, but it doesn’t happen. It actually leads to a pretty interesting payoff.
On a final note, since this was the series that gave Johnny Depp his start, you can naturally expect an obligatory cameo. However, the film actually makes the cameo work for the story, as it’s a return of the character Depp played on the original show. It’s a nice touch and actually added to the movie.
Overall, this is an enjoyable film. It has a nice blend of action, comedy, and some genuine drama. It portrays teenagers more realistically than other recent films and pokes fun at itself on several occasions. On my personal scale, I give 21 Jump Street. a 3.5/5.