21 Jump Street : A Bro-mantic Comedy

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By Elkay Takhel

Every once in a while I have this thing where I’d imagine a different event or a different reality to the things that had actually occurred. How wonderful it would be if I had a rewind button or could just have the same experience again just to do it differently altogether. Sigh, woulda, coulda, shoulda. This happens only in fiction and a wonderful fiction is what we have in today’s back-to-school flick.

We have been through countless buddy-cop movies and teen comedies; and are quite thorough with almost every plot and turns in the scripts. And that’s exactly where you and I are wrong about this movie. It is a buddy-cop, action and comedy flick all right, but this is one with a heart.

21 Jump Street is a 2012 American action comedy film starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, written by Hill and Michael Bacall, and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
21 Jump Street is a 2012 American action comedy film starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, written by Hill and Michael Bacall, and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller.

In the brief prologue, we are introduced to two characters; the main leads in the feature, Jenko (played by Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (played by Jonah Hill). And just like the roles that they have portrayed in many other films, their characters here are polar opposites too. Jenko is the high school jock, with a dim bulb upstairs, the (maybe) heartthrob. While, Schmidt on the other hand is the geeky nerd who has a frog down his throat and chokes every time he confronts a pretty young thing.

Well, we know the whole shebang, and the filmmakers are aware that we know. So, they spare us the whole song and dance of the whole high-school-prom thing that’s inevitably the core of every teen-comedy’s DNA. Instead, they rush us through a scene introducing the two, nerd-jock-loser-jerk; the two are definitely not enemies but belong to two different species. Then, in the next scene a few years down the line, they end up together at the police academy. There, they become friends; initially to help make up for each other’s shortcomings- Jenko for his lack of mental acuity and Schmidt for his pudgy exterior that makes him a total non-athlete.

And when they pass out, together they expect a life of explosions and car chases. But instead, they are assigned park-patrol and then somehow end up as undercover cops going back to high school to bust a drug ring. Just like us, who by now are convinced that we had breezed or struggled through high-school all wrong, they decide to do things right the second time around being at school.

Channing Tatum has “starred” in a variety of genres- dance, action, romantic-drama etc. with a whole lot of bad acting and even worse script (from the rubber-band act in StepUp to the dismal G.I.Joe and downright BORING Dear John) but has never attempted comedy. So when we were introduced to his character, I was unsure if his bad, mask-faced acting would be able to pull it off.  But he somehow gets it right. What with his deadpan expression and a great comic timing and his character here with a live beating heart; and not to mention the perfect ‘odd-couple’ mix with Jonah Hill. As for Jonah, he had already proved his mettle in a lot of comedy ventures-Superbad,Knocked-Up, Get Him To The Greek, and in the very recent, highly acclaimed ‘Moneyball.’ And here too, he doesn’t disappoint. He is the perfect ‘yin’ to Tatum’s ‘yang’. From different planets, no doubt, but definitely MFEO(made for each other) in a totally non-gay way (or maybe not). The two goofballs raise hell whenever they are given the chance and in the process bust every cop-action flick cliché.

Well, with a tight script, a good direction, a nice cast and a good pairing of the lead cast, the film takes you for an enjoyable ride from the word ‘go.’  And on this ride, we are happy, amused, saddened and most of the time peed-in-the-pants laughing, but never bored or disappointed. And sometimes, pleasantly
surprised.

Through most of the film, I was either happily ROFL-ing or just plain smiling, and so lost in doing so, that there were times I realized that the painful feeling in my face was because I had this huge, stupid, idiotic smile frozen on my face the whole time and then would have to un-smile consciously only to be disappointed/greeted by its inevitable
return.

So folks, book a place for this feel-good flick this weekend and get ready for smiles and painful cheeks galore. Till next time, peace out!

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