21 Jump Street

Release Date: March 16, 2012

Surprisingly, they just saw someone with worse hair than theirs.

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
5/169 Max Braden There were a bunch of laugh out loud moments, especially the drug deal shootout.
7/12 Les Winan Better it should be. Channing Tatum is the real story -- in that he's actually funny.

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In 1987, the fledgling Fox Network debuted one of their first series, a blatant attempt to indoctrinate a new generation of teens into the would-be fourth network. Many of the shows aired in the early days were comically inept but a couple exceeded expectations. One of these, 21 Jump Street, not only attained a level of respect as a genre launch show but more importantly launched the career of one Johnny Depp, who has since become the biggest superstar in the world.

Since the show went off the air in 1991, there have been several attempts to re-launch it as either a new syndicated series or as a movie. The comedy tandem of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the duo responsible for the blockbuster hit Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, was eventually given the same assignment as countless Hollywood directors before them. The difference is that where countless others failed, Lord and Miller triumphed. BOP is unsurprised by this because we are perhaps the most ardent fans of Clone High on the Internet and Clone High was the first series created by Lord and Miller.

With a working script by Michael Bacall (co-writer of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) in place, Relativity Media and Sony were finally ready to cast the next generation who would replace Johnny Depp, Holly Robinson, Peter DeLuise, Dustin Nguyen and Richard Grieco. Before you laugh at the thought, consider that Robinson has consistently worked for 20 years, Grieco inconsistently during that timeframe and DeLuise along with his family has made a mint via the various Stargate series. 21 Jump Street’s casting department deserves a lot of credit for the job they did in in the late '80s.

In 2012, the cops pretending to be high school students will be portrayed by Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. If you are like me, you are laughing already. The jock/nerd dynamic is impossible to ignore with this tandem of sex symbol Tatum (who will also play a male stripper in Magic Mike) and newly thin but still dorky Hill. Even better, Ice Cube has been cast in the original Steven Williams role as the perennially angry African American cop who supervises the young police officers. This is a masterstroke in my estimation.

The premise remains the same as the original. Tatum and Hill’s characters are fresh out of the police academy. They will be tasked to infiltrate a local high school and pretend to be students in order to unearth details about a local drug dealing operation. Along the way, they come to realize that high school has changed a great deal in just a few years due to the advent of the viral communication era.

The trailers, the cast members and the writers all hint at a very funny movie here. On paper, 21 Jump Street looks like another lame reboot of a tired concept from a quarter century ago. Something has to give. My money is on the Clone High tandem proving once again that they are among the funniest guys on the planet. 21 Jump Street should be a surprise hit. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for 21 Jump Street
Main Cast Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum
Supporting Cast Ice Cube, Brie Larson, Rob Riggle, Dave Franco, DeRay Davis, Jake Johnson, Johnny Simmons, Johnny Pemberton, Dakota Johnson, Ellie Kemper
Director Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Screenwriter Michael Bacall
Distributor Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Rating R
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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