Jonah Hill's action-comedy adaptation of the hit late-'80s TV show about young cops who go undercover at a high-school to investigate teenage crimes.
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Far more entertaining than it seemed on paper, this extremely loose adaptation of the not particularly fondly remembered late '80s drama is the best comedy to be released so far this year.
Abandoning the serious tone of the show was a step in the right direction but it's the underlying dynamic of the film that really makes it work: Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum's characters in high school (where we first meet them) are respectively a weird nerd and a popular jock but those exact traits render them in opposite power positions when they return as undercover cops to a high school world wholly unfamiliar to them.
My fears that Hill was turning into a one trick pony were offset by his performance in Moneyball and it's fun to see him re-embrace his finely honed comedic persona here. Acting is not Tatum's strong point but that suits his doltish character. The scenes of him bonding with the school nerds are among the film's best.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs co-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller bring some of that film’s skew-whiff energy and never allow 21 Jump Street to settle into any one thing. The silliness occasionally undercuts the suspension of disbelief (especially during the inevitable big star cameo), but the stellar laugh-rate ensured I was never less than highly amused.