21 Jump Street


Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer hits number 1. The Fox Network debuts with Married… with Children. The Simpsons first show up as shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show. U2 makes it big with The Joshua Tree. The Iran-Contra hearings begin. Guns N’ Roses releases Appetite for Destruction. George Michael releases Faith. Kylie Minogue's cover of The Loco-Motion starts her career. A gallon of gas is only 89 cents. We had 1 billion less people in the world.

We also got Johnny Depp in 21 Jump Street.

21 Jump Street was a Fox Network TV series that debuted in April 1987. It was a police procedural that ran for over 100 episodes and followed Depp and several other officers in their exploits as undercover cops who posed as high school kids. The address, 21 Jump Street, was a nod to their headquarters, an abandoned church which was located there.

Aside from wanting to have Dustin Nguyen’s hair, I remember that the show was pretty cool. But given how badly shows from the 80’s tend to hold up (see MacGyver), it probably wasn’t nearly as great as I recall. It was certainly completely different from the film adaptation.

Starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, the new 21 Jump Street only resembles the series at only the most superficial levels: they’re both about cops that look like kids who go undercover to bust young punks. That’s about where the resemblance ends though. The series was more like a drama than anything else. Some high school-er would get mixed up with drugs or trapped in some gang, and it was up to Depp, Nguyen, Holly Robinson and Peter DeLuise to get them out by the end of the show.

The film version is like that, only with a lot of stoner comedy thrown in.

I am not sure how I feel about this.


If you’ve watched The Green Hornet with Seth Rogen, then you’ve got an idea how 21 Jump Street turned out. Where the original may have been a little campy, the remake is low brow comedy. It’s dick and fart jokes with some car chases and gunfire. It’s Superbad, only with Tatum instead of Michael Cera.

Throughout the movie, I kept finding myself laughing, despite having gone in wanting to hate this film. I’m not a big fan of dorks on screen: Nerds are fine. Geeks are fine. Mysophobic, agoraphobic, obsessive compulsives are fine. Dorks are just painful. Maybe it’s having grown up as a dork, but I empathize too much with the characters to find any onscreen shenanigans funny. Seth Rogen, Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, Jon Heder – I simply can’t stand watching their films.

You’d think that having Mr. Tatum along for the ride would balance things out, but it turns out that the adult cop can’t adjust to today’s high school and the former jock finds himself ostracized when they’re reinserted into the student body (I almost want to write an R-rated teen comedy just so that I can use that last line in it). Jonah Hill is still Jonah Hill, even if he did lose tons of weight for this role.

In any case, I can’t totally hate this film. I can say however, that is definitely not worth the price of a ticket. This one’s a solid rental if ever and you wouldn’t be missing anything if you decided to skip it. You’re better off paying for another Avengers ticket, or bringing your date to watch The Cabin in the Woods.

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