If it's crap ... We'll tell you
I never watched 21 Jump Street when it was on, mainly because I was three when the last season aired. I haven't watched it since then either but even I was pretty hesitant about this new movie based on the TV series. They could have done a lot of really terrible things with this movie, but somehow they were able to find a way to update the concept without being insulting to the original material. Well, at least I assume it doesn't insult it.
Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) weren't friends in high school, but through their training to be police officers they began to form a bond. After proving that they suck at their jobs, they're assigned to an undercover mission in which they must play high school students in order to bust a drug ring. But the re-introduction to high school brings back bad memories and the two have to struggle not only to fit in but to keep their friendship together.
Jonah Hill is somebody I've had to allow to grow on me over time. I'm not a big fan of his style of humor, and knowing this was a pet project of his didn't help absolve me of worry. But I think this is some of the best work he's done as far as his comedies go. The same goes for Channing Tatum, in all film genres, as he sort of has a reputation of doing nothing but terrible movies. Oddly enough, one of the biggest highlights I found was Dave Franco, James Franco's brother, as the school's lead drug dealer. He's just as good an actor as his brother and I'd love to see him in more stuff. The rest of the supporting cast is what you'd expect, which isn't a negative comment at all. They're just not really a big focus in the film and thus I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to them.
The movie is very self-aware and that both works to help and hinder the humor. There are a lot of great gags poking fun at both the action film genre and the film industry in general. Unfortunately, in at least one major instance, they had a great joke going and the payoff just isn't what it could have been in other circumstances. They make a very specific joke early on about how remakes tend to be done for a profit without any actual time or imagination put into them. It's a funny gag at the time but as the film goes along it plays out like a ton of other movies these days, making the joke sort of null.
On the whole, 21 Jump Street does a good job at making a reboot accessible to newcomers, but in doing so it made the movie feel a little too much like everything else out there. And that's fine if it works, but a lot of the jokes here didn't work for me. A lot of them did though, so I recommend this to anybody looking for a cheap laugh. You do have to have at least a little bit of knowledge about the original television series though in order to get some of best parts of the film.