My number one reason for seeing any particular movie this year has, to date, been I want to go to the movies and this one looks least likely to put me to sleep. Which is how I picked 21 Jump Street. And perhaps it was my low expectation that set me up for it, but I was more than surprised at how much I actually liked this movie. Liked and enjoyed, actually.
Now, of course, there were problems with it. The last quarter slid into the usual, boring, Hollywood, our-audience-will-be-morons-so-why-should-we-bother-to-be-imaginative, let’s-just-take-the-money-and-run catalogue of car chases, gunfights and explosions. But what it has got is actual, really funny, laugh-out-loud moments. First time it happened in the cinema where I saw the movie, people actually seemed embarrassed at such outbursts the first time, looking around to check if anyone was staring at them oddly, but by the second such moment they just gave in to the impulse and shouted with laughter.
If I was Jonah Hill I would be beginning to worry about typecasting – how many immature, fat-boy-who-comes-good roles are there left to cast? And he’s not getting any younger. To be fair, I thought he was marvellous as the immature fat-boy (got the look down perfectly) and I was really pulling for him to get the girl, even though I knew it was inevitable from the moment she pedalled onto the screen. (This is not a plot spoiler, unless you really are the moron Hollwood expects and if so, I hope you are keeping up with the big words – ask your mom about the concepts).
Channing Tatum was fine as the handsome jock who got everything handed to him when he was in High School simply because he is handsome and on the hockey/football/track/swimming team. Actually, my only criticism of Tatum is that he isn’t quite good-looking enough to carry the role convincingly. Or maybe it’s just that he’s such a good actor that when the roles get reversed on their return to school as under-cover cops I actually had no problem believing he was one of the geeks/nerds (I’m never sure which they are). Visually, this concept needed to challenge me at every hand’s turn. Johah did in his role as the ‘cool’ kid. No matter how school has changed You’d still be stealing his lunch money or eating his sandwiches – because that’s what kids like him are there for. In Hollywoodland.
So, if you’ve got an evening planned and there’s no must-see movie on in your local multiplex, you could do worse than 21 Jump Street. Not quite as good as Bridesmaids – which really surprised the hell out of me last year – but when this comes up on TV in a couple of years I’ll probably watch it again. Could there be much higher praise than that?