21 JUMP STREET is not just the funniest comedy of the year thus far – it’s one of the funniest comedies in recent memory. Based on the television series from the late ’80s starring Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise and brought to life by a creative team whose credits include cult-classics CLONE HIGH and SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD, the film works on nearly every level imaginable: as ’80s buddy-comedy satire, as a coming-of-age (twice!) tale and even as commentary on the nature of contemporary Hollywood and their remake-obsessed tendencies.
And although the script is smart (several of the meta-jokes are so subtle that they actually cue the act breaks themselves), the direction is assured and the editing is on par with a Nicholas Stoller comedy, it’s really the remarkable chemistry between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum that steals the show. Sure, there are some truly hilarious peripheral performances by Brie Larson, Ice Cube and Dave Franco (the absolutely terrific, scene-stealing younger brother to the infamous Oscar host), but the two leads are so astoundingly good together that nobody can even come close. If you’d have asked me my opinion of Tatum prior to this film, I’d tell you that I didn’t really have one, one way or the other – that’s how far off of my radar he was. Amazingly, he emerges here as a remarkable comedic personality, and I hope he remains in the genre for years to come.
The meta aspects of the script are absolutely hysterical, calling itself out for its own bullshit before it even happens, and making it all the more funny when the film first subverts and then pays off those expectations. The arc is predictable but knowingly so, and it has just enough heart and humor about it that I found myself not minding at all.
Most important, however, is that this film is funny. Really funny. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard or so consistently throughout an entire film. Every joke, every sight-gag, every plot-development and framing device all landed squarely where they were supposed to, leaving me in stitches. Many praise this film as being the best comedy since BRIDESMAIDS. I would argue that it surpasses it.
The film (of course) winkingly sets itself up for a sequel, but for once I don’t mind. In fact, I’m downright excited by the possibility. If I’m being completely honest with myself, I’m ready for another go-around with these characters; they’ve earned that much in this ridiculous (and extraordinarily accurate) send-up of contemporary teenage and high school living.
Bring on the Undergrads.