Here’s a breath of fresh air just when we need it – a full throttle action comedy remake/reboot of the ‘80s TV series that brought a certain Johnny Depp to public attention.
The 2012 take on 21 Jump Street makes full use of the original gimmick of having real cops going undercover as high school students.
The cops in question are brainy loser Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and dim-but-hunky Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum), former chalk and cheese school classmates who meet again at police academy.
Double directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who previously teamed up to serve up Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, ramp up the swearing, crude jokes and general authentic teen banter.
There’s no doubt it will offend some but is undeniably very funny when it works as well as it does here.
The two leads are great, embracing their chance to go back to high school – but the delicious twist to this update is that everything has changed.
When Jenko was a school he was supercool and made fun of those who tried, drove a gas-guzzling car and beat up weedy kids.
Now he’s everything that isn’t cool – the kids are into eco-friendly projects and Glee, they value their education and frown on Jenko’s jock mentality.
It’s a good spin that reflects how society has moved on and is just one of the nice touches that mark this film out as one to watch rather than a cheap cash in.
21 Jump Street manages to be laugh out loud funny thanks to a quality cast – the pick of the bunch has to be rapper Ice Cube as Captain Dickson, the police chief in charge of the undercover school operation.
He gets many of the best lines including commanding the young looking cops to “teenage up” when they turn up failing to look the part.
The plot sees Schmidt and Jenko assigned to try and stop a new synthetic drug that is being pushed in their high school from spreading to other campuses by finding the supplier.
They go undercover as brothers, living at Schmidt’s parents’ house, and against all odds, it is Schmidt who manages to fit in with the popular kids and who finds loves with Molly (Brie Larson). Jenko has to buddy up with the misfits in his chemistry class whilefending off the romantic advances of his teacher Ms. Griggs (Ellie Kemper).
It all builds up to an exciting climax at the school prom where the film kicks into action mode and is topped off by an awesome cameo.
This is one remake that delivers over and above the original – here’s to the mooted college-based sequel!