Saturday, July 7, 2012

21 Jump Street Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Jonah Hill (MoneyballSuperbad) and Channing Tatum (The Vow, Dear John) swap guns for books in the hit action-comedy 21 Jump Street from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. In this hilarious and action-packed comedy, Hill and Tatum star as a team of rookie cops forced to go undercover at a high school to bust a dangerous drug ring.  As they trade in their guns and badges for backpacks, they risk their lives to investigate a violent and dangerous drug ring.  But they find that high school is nothing like they left it just a few years earlier - and neither expects that they will have to confront the terror and anxiety of being a teenager again and all the issues they thought they had left behind.  The film features a hysterical supporting cast, including Ice Cube (Barbershop, Friday), Dave Franco (Fright Night,Superbad), Brie Larson (Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, “United States of Tara”), Ellie Kemper (Bridesmaids, “The Office”) and Rob Riggle (The HangoverThe Other Guys). 

Film (4 out of 5 stars)

Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) meet in high school.  Schmidt is a dorky kid with bleach blonde hair and braces which Jenko has nicknamed “not so slim shady.”  Jenko is a popular jock with bad grades.  He enjoys bullying Schmidt very much.  Their high school careers end with Schmidt being laughed at in the hallway for asking a pretty girl to the prom and Jenko being told that his grades aren't good enough to go to prom.  Both boys miss out on the prom.  Seven years later, Jenko and Schmidt are reunited at the police academy.  Jenko has the physical fitness tests down but fails the written exams.  Schmidt has the opposite issues.  Jenko notices Schmidt's good tests scores and asks “do you want to be friends?”  The men help each other, and both graduate the police academy.  

As rookie officers they patrol the park on bikes, getting Frisbees and spend their time hassling a kid for feeding the ducks in a prohibited area.  Their first big arrest comes when they see a group of bikers smoking pot.  Turns out the bikers have more drugs on them but they resist arrest.  Only one biker in the group is actually caught and arrested, but Jenko and Schmidt still feel like heroes.  Back at the station they learn that the man was let go because Jenko failed to read him his Miranda rights.  The captain asks Jenko to recite the four declamatory statements followed by a question then and there.  Jenko states you have the right to remain have the right to remain an attorney.  When the captain questions “you have the right to remain an attorney” Schmidt pipes in that, you do, in fact have the right to be an attorney.  The captain tells the men of an undercover opportunity where immature officers are being sent to high school and they are directed to report to 21 Jump Street for further instructions.  

21 Jump Street is an abandoned church and Ice Cube play the man in charge of the operation.  He is not impressed with the two men, who are dumb enough to show up for their undercover assignment in uniform but he gives them their instructions.  They are to head to Sagan High to locate the dealer and find the supplier of a new drug.  This new drug H.F.S. Is responsible for a very funny you tube video, and the death of a young boy.  H.F.S. Has amusing phases starting with “The Giggs” (giggles), followed by “tripping major ballsack”, “Over-falsity of Confidence” and eventually “Asleepyness”.  The men are sent to live at Schmidt's house and their cover is to be brothers, and high school students.  On their first day at school, they mix up identities and Schmidt ends up in drama, while Jenko is sent to AP Chemistry, a class he can't even pronounce. 

It doesn't take long to find the dealer and they head to yearbook to make a buy.  The dealer (Dave Franco) makes them take the drug right there to prove that they aren't narcs.  They comply, and head to the bathroom in an attempt to throw up.  When they can't, they decide to finger each other’s mouths to induce vomiting.  That doesn't work either and the drug does its work sending the men through all of the phases.  While high, Schmidt agrees to participate in a track meet and blows the coach’s chances at victory.  The cool kids, including the dealer, see this and are impressed with Schmidt's actions.  Everything in high school is backwards from the way it was seven years prior and Schmidt quickly becomes one of the cool kids while Jenko befriends the chemistry class nerds.

Schmidt really gets into the high school experience getting a crush on a fellow classmate (Brie Larson) who agrees to go to Prom with him.  He gets the lead in the school play and starts making fun of his “older brother” Jenko when he's not around.  Jenko has a bug placed in the dealer's phone and the relationship between the two men becomes very strained.  The number one rule is to not get expelled from school but they manage to do just that after an attempt to track down the supplier leads to Schmidt missing the start of his play and concludes with an on stage fight with Jenko.  Back at Jump Street the men are quickly fired.  As Jenko prepares to leave his cover home, the dealer shows up and asks for their help.  They go with him, and end up at prom.  There they learn who the dealer is and end up in a gang shootout, followed by a limo chase and finally their first arrest (Miranda rights included).

21 Jump Street turned out to be a very funny, clever movie.  I watched the television show this is based off of and when I heard a movie was being made, my initial reaction was disappointment, thinking that they were going to ruin another that thing I loved.  This is one of the few times I will say this....but I was wrong. After multiple viewings, I noticed a lot of small amusing details like when the boys are undercover their mom writes their names on their lunches in quotes (“Doug”).  A lot of Jonah Hill's amusing moments come from being embarrassed by his mom and her friend who just don't get the seriousness of being undercover.  I didn't like most of Jonah Hill's other movies, but I truly enjoyed this film.  Hill and Channing Tatum develop a bromance and have great chemistry together.  I can really believe that Tatum would have beat up hill in high school but befriended him in their twenties.  Rob Riggle plays the coach, and is responsible for a great deal of laughs himself.  There are multiple cameos by alumni from the television show, which are great additions to the story and are not always easy to find at first.

21 Jump Street is silly in all the right ways.  Its insults directed at the original show are well played.  It laughs at itself even more and has many sweet, endearing moments I would not have expected.  I love everything about this movie and think Jonah Hill and Tatum Channing were the perfect choices to play the two leading men.  21 Jump Street has a solid R rating, which it earned primarily because of language.  I wouldn't recommend playing this in front of any youngsters.  It's full of phrases you never want to hear your child repeat, but are sure to make the adults in the house laugh.  Viewers will probably either love this or hate it.  If you don't find Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum's actions hilarious as I did, you'll probably regret the entire film.  I am putting 21 Jump Street in my top four list of comedies along with Ted, The Hangover and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  Those are all movies that I have never gotten sick of and they just get funnier to me with each viewing.

Video (3 out of 5 stars)

21 Jump Street is presented in1080p High Definition, widescreen format with a 2.40:1 ratio.  The film as a whole appears rather dark.  The whole thing could have had the brightness turned up a notch.  The daylight scenes are brighter, and have more impressive detail than the interior location shots.  Still, I was too busy laughing to nitpick about the film quality which was good enough but not great.  The explosions are close to realistic with a slightly engineered feel, but it never took anything away from the movie for me.

Audio (4 out of 5 stars)

Where the video quality fails to impress, the audio excels.  21 Jump Street is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound, with alternate languages of French, Spanish and Thai available as well as English Descriptive Service.  Subtitles are available in English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin Simplified), Chinese (Mandarin Traditional), Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean and Thai. The soundtrack plays a significant role in the film and is played with clarity.  Surround sound is noticeable and the audio effects of gun fire and car chases are immersive.  Although dialogue ranges from whispers to shouting, volume does not need adjustment.

Extras (5 out of 5 stars)

For once, a film has exactly the right amount of special features for my taste.  The list is significant but everyone was well thought out, amusing, and necessary.  None of them seem like filler, or an after-thought. 
  • Commentary – Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum provide an amusing commentary.  At times it can be hard to understand because they are laughing so much but all four of these guys are funny and I enjoyed listening to their insights.  They talk about filming, but also tell personal stories of going out, drinking too much, and making fun of themselves. 
  • Deleted Scenes – A whopping twenty deleted scenes.  It's too bad they couldn't keep these scenes because I found them almost all of them to be really interesting.  I especially liked seeing Schmidt and Jenko fight over lunch in their car. 
  • Gag Reel    Funny bits with the cast messing around.
  • Cube-O-Rama – A collection of lines delivered by Ice Cube. 
  • Back to School – A behind the scenes, making of, and featurette with interviews with the actor and director with candid footage. 
  • Brothers In Arms – A featurette about Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill's on screen and off screen relationship. 
  • Johnny Depp on Set – A featurette about Johnny Depp reprising his role as Tom Hansen and how the cast and crew reacted to him. 
  • The Rob Riggle Show – A featurette about Rob Riggle with cast interviews and a collection of Rob Riggle scenes.  Includes a discussion of Riggle's man crush on Channing Tatum. 
  • Peter Pan on the Freeway – A look at the freeway chase scenes. 
  • Previews – Preview for Safety not Guaranteed, Lockout, Ghost Rider: spirit of Vengeance, That's My Boy, Underworld: Awakening, and The Raid: Redemption.

Final Thoughts (4 out of 5 stars)

It may have taken two directors to make, but 21 Jump Street is a big hit in my book.  All my fears were unfounded and it is now one of my favorite comedies.  Watching the special features, it's clear that everyone involved in the film had a great time and that translates well.  I'm even willing to take a second look at some of Jonah Hill's film after this.  One of the most important aspects was that Johnny Depp's cameo was well done and that it was gratuitous as he was a part of the story.  I would have hated to see him serve the boys a hamburger or pop up in some other insignificant way. 

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