Audience jumps for ’21 Jump St.’

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Arguably one of the best things to come out of the eighties, the classic buddy-cop show “21 Jump Street” has been adapted into a buddy-cop movie, and despite a few pacing problems and a script that would fill the world’s biggest swear jar, the overall review was a positive one.

The story centers on Officers Schmidt and Jenko, two recent graduates who have been sequestered to a low-end job as park guards. But their mundane existence is thrown for an explosion-ridden 360 as soon as they are reassigned to an undercover program- mainly because they are, as their Captain elegantly puts it, “Justin-Beiber, Miley-Cyrus lookin’ guys.” The boys train to become narcs in a local high school, posing as students in order to bust a growing drug ring. However, a glitch in the computer system forces brainy Shmidt (played by a cheerfuly self-deprecating Jonah Hill) to pose as a popular jock, and meathead Jenko (portrayedwith surprising dexterity and depth by Channing Tatum) to pose as a science geek.

A cliched premise? Of course it is. It’s adapted from an eighties television show, for crying out loud- the era that invented cliches. But the best part of this movie is that at no point does the audience say, “Oh, this is so predictable.” “Jump St.” is a crazy joyride from start to finish.

Improbably, Hil and Tatum are a perfect comedy team. Hill has a sarcastic, almost dark sense of humor that is counteracted beautifully by Tatum’s blank-faced innocence. What’s more, both of the actors manage to make their characters into actual PEOPLE- they grow, they change, and you can actually see them doing so. Schmidt gets to experience the popular road he never had in high school, and Hill retains the aura of wonderment and disbelief almost to the point where you’re cooing over him. Jenko learns science, and indeed one of the best parts of the movie is watching Channing Tatum morph into a geek (light-saber sound-effects and all). Notable in the supporting cast is Dave Franco (yes, James Franco’s little brother), who plays the role of the crunchy-granola hippie drug dealer with just the right balance of cool and weird- maybe leaning a bit to the weird side.

The script is punchy and laugh-out-loud funny in places, though they use jokes about male genitalia so often it gets to be a little mundane. The pacing is also a little off towards the beginning, with the directors trying to establish the relationship between Schmidt and Jenko in as little time as possible. Neither, however, detract from the story.

All in all, from the hilarious cast to a few cameos you’ll never see coming, “21 Jump Street” should not be missed.

4.2 out of 5 stars.