At the risk of alienating a packed theatre full of 18 to 25-year-olds, I must confess after a recent viewing of 21 Jump Street, to finding it easily the worst film I’ve seen so far this year.
I know, there will be lots of comments on how it’s such a great spoof of the endless vista of cop-buddy movies that still dog us after their heyday in the ’80s and ’90s, but that doesn’t make it any less tiresome to watch.
Channing Tatum (seen on local screens recently in The Vow and in 2011’s The Eagle) and Jonah Hill (Moneyball, Cyrus) star in this formulaic piece of drivel, as two incompetent fledgling police officers, Jenko(Tatum) and Schmidt (Hill).
Sent out on bicycle patrol for their first assignment, they smell marijuana in the park and go after a gang of toughs, only to be totally intimidated by them, then demoted because they didn’t read the miscreants their Miranda rights.
Their supposedly youthful appearance makes them prime candidates to be reassigned to a special undercover unit that investigates drug usage in local high schools and colleges.
That plot line takes off from the main premise of the original Fox-TV show, which ran from 1987 to 1991 and was largely filmed in Vancouver.
21 Jump Street PHOTO: Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.
It gave JohnnyDepp his first starring role, and launched what was to become an illustrious career.
Although Jenkoand Schmidt knew each other in high school, they weren’t on the best of terms. One was a jock and the other an introvert.
We are expected to be caught up in the role reversal when they return to school undercover, as the jock becomes a drama major, and the shy one becomes one of the in-crowd.
Regrettably, the character development is so insubstantial as to produce nothing more invigorating than a collective yawn.
Their initial encounter with the black police captain who gives them their new marching orders, from a headquarters disguised as an abandoned Korean fundamentalist church, is played by rapper Ice Cube, in his 28th film role.
He’s unnecessarily and stereotypically profane and irritating, and sums up the rest of the film when he rants about recycling crap from the past, and expecting that people won’t notice.
This is all about recycling, and doing it rather badly.
As the pair attempt to set up a sting operation to nab the suspected drug dealers on campus, they break in to the evidence locker at police headquarters and steal prodigious amounts of marijuana.
They load up on booze, which they transport to a drunken house party that degenerates into an all-out brawl.
The humour is gross, crude and homophobic. The car chases and explosions drag on. The characterizations are predictable.
The set-up gags are lame, the smart-aleck attempts at hip dialogue are clipped and muffled, and the plot is jumpy, undistinguished and meandering.
About the biggest challenge in the film, which made $135 million in its opening week, is spotting JohnnyDepp’s brief cameo appearance.
21 Jump Street plays at the Qwanlin Cinema at 7:15 and 9:30 p.m., and is rated 14-A for frequent coarse language, violence and sexual language.