If it's crap ... We'll tell you
As has been said time and time again, comedies are the most difficult genre of film to get right; it's like traversing a minefield on a unicycle. One small mis-step, and it could send everything up in a ball of flames. And when I first heard of this particular comedy, I had low hopes for it, the trailer looked so drab, and the leads were not to my taste at all. However, I did wish to give it the benefit of a doubt, especially after the quite strong reviews it has received. Did it pay off? Let's have a look...
The film follows two long time friends who have recently passed Police School, Morton (Jonah Hill) and Greg (Channing Tatum). After many mishaps and failed arrests, they are assigned to a re-opened undercover group at 21 Jump Street. A new synthetic drug has begun to spread through a high school, called HFS. (Holy Fucking Shit) After the death of a kid from overdose, Greg and Morton are placed on a team to enter the school disguised as students, and try to find the source of the dealership, and stop it. They need to keep their identities secret all the time, while still gaining the trust of the dealers and groups within the school.
So far, so expected, this is a comedy tale you will be familiar with. What makes it more interesting however, is the friendship between Morton and Greg. When they were in high school, they couldn't have been any more different, with one being the jock and the other being the nerd. But, while training to be Cops, they learn to help each other overcome their weaknesses and create a very close bond. When they go undercover, we see how they are placed in situations which are the opposite of their strengths, their inability to adjust to the modern school ways, and work together both as "brothers" and in gathering information. It's the twist that gives the film its originality, in some parts at least.
But what really sells this film, is the comedic script, which is fantastic. The dialogue and interactions had me laughing out loud at its absurdness and raunchy style; it's actually not too far from the type we saw in Horrible Bosses. Here though, it hits the mark much more often, and despite the fact that some scenes fell a little flat, you were never far away from the next joke that would pull you back in straight away. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum both have a blend of great lines, and surprisingly, working off of each other quite well too. Their performances aren't memorable or of a high calibre, but they make the most of the material that's been given to them. Ice Cube, who plays the role of the head officer of the operation, was excellent too. His moments were probably the funniest for me, simply because he has such great energy in everything he says. I'm surprised he hasn't taken a role like this before, because it suits him exceedingly well.
The setup of the high school itself, and the story, is like all the modern references and traits you know, with the dials set to overdrive. So we get lots of hipster-ish characters with their own particular traits, who are displayed as having their place within the school. Budding scientists? Environmentalists? Yep, they're cool here. They're all very much emphasised, which makes for a pretty hilarious system-shock to Morton and Greg, who thought the old stereotypes still existed. Rob Riggle, who plays one of the teachers, really had me laughing hard, in particular during a scene where the two narks have taken the drugs and are going through all the phases. It's the absolute high point for this film; the entire theatre was in tears from it.
To say this is a "clever" or "witty" film would be totally wrong, this is raunchy and a sledgehammer in its execution. Because of that, some scenes miss their mark, and also, it may not have much re-watch merit to it. I can see the jokes being less interesting the second time round. But thankfully, the film doesn't lose sight of the comradery between Channing and Jonah's characters. That friendship and it's progression through the story really holds things together, and keeps you invested in what's going on. Rarely does it hit a serious note, but it's enough. If I were to point a finger at any other flaws, the action sequences could have been a bit tighter; it kind of runs ragged during a few scenes to the point where I was losing interest a little.
But, this is a film that is very aware of its ties to the classic buddy-cop films, so I guess having less-than-perfect chase scenes fits. On that point aswell, I liked how it poked fun at all the typical traits we see in these type of films, not simply just a wink to the audience, but shouting at them and blowing an air horn. It's strange, this is a film that should have bombed, at any point it could have fallen to pieces or the script could have... should have, dried up. But it held in there, and that friendship showed that the writers knew that they had to connect with the audience. Which they did well, I must say.
I can't believe that I'm giving this film an enthusiastic Matinee, but it deserves it. I had a great time seeing this tonight, and the rest of the theatre loved every second. This is a real crowd-pleaser, and has plenty of fun and laughs to deliver. Maybe it won't be as fun seeing it for a second time, but it is well worth the look.
Thanks for reading! ^__^