The Horn's Allie Eissler gives her take on the latest comedy from Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum.
Does it really even matter if a film like this is technically good? It's a pretty pedestrian, grade-B buddy movie ― think “Superbad” meets “Starsky & Hutch” and then has a meaningless fling with “Rush Hour” ― that requires minimal brain activity and features disembodied penis jokes galore. It's the same brand of goofy, raunchy humor we've come to expect from mainstream comedies about twenty and thirty-somethings who never quite made it past middle school. You'll forget about your grown-up problems for just shy of two hours. You'll laugh. You'll cringe. If you're a diehard fan of Jonah Hill, the ratio of laughs to cringes will be significantly higher. But this film won't be making many best-of lists (put it this way: it's no “Bridesmaids”), nor will you remember it in great detail next week. Or even... tomorrow.
The plot is based very loosely on the TV show ― which is, arguably, most famous for catapulting Johnny Depp to Teen Beat heartthrob status in the eighties. After embarrassing their precinct with a botched drug bust, new cops Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are sent back to high school undercover, as part of the recently revived Jump Street program. Much of the entertainment comes from the fact that high school has changed dramatically in their seven-year absence ― not only are the cool kids two-strapping their backpacks now, but environmentally-conscious hipster-chic is in and meathead-jock is out. Schmidt is suddenly popular, and ex-quarterback and prom king Jenko is at the bottom of the social totem pole.
Channing Tatum, best known for playing stereotypical leaden, glazed-over hunks in movies like “Step Up” and “The Vow,” is surprisingly hilarious as he struggles to shed his old high school persona and acclimate to AP chemistry class, as well as what he deems to be the Glee-ification of youth culture. Jonah Hill is a slimmer and slightly tamer, more endearing version of himself. James Franco's little brother, Dave, is delightfully evil as the rich-kid-meets-tolerant-guitar-strumming-hipster-drug-pusher.
All the tropes are there ― immature “Superbad”-style cops who bump fists and victory dance whenever they catch a perp; the crazy blow-out high school party; Ice Cube as the angry black man who pokes fun at the angry black man stereotype; the horny female teacher who is constantly hitting on her way-too-old-looking-for-high-school male student (an amusing bit role for Ellie Kemper of “The Office”); the NARC crushing on a cute underage theatre student... Um. Okay, that part's pretty awkward. But it's still a mostly funny take on the going-back-to-high-school plotline, and it's way more entertaining than it should be.