21 Jump Street - Online Review

'If there's anything past cinematic school-set hits have taught us it's that if you get the lingo right, the rest can follow. Add to past stellar examples of teen-language invention, 'Phase 2: Tripping Major Ballsack' and 'Phase 4: Fuck Yeah Motherfucker'.'

21 Jump Street is on to something with its description of the phases users go through when they take the film's drug, and head MacGuffin, HFS. If there's anything past cinematic school-set hits have taught us it's that if you get the lingo right, the rest can follow. Think MacLovin' in Superbad or The Plastics in Mean Girls and you're on to the level of label which translates into a cult linguistic hit. Add to those stellar examples of teen-language invention, 'Phase 2: Tripping Major Ballsack' and 'Phase 4: Fuck Yeah Motherfucker'. There's structure, inventiveness and pleasure in the obscenity.

That very structure, inventiveness and pleasure follows through in to a film which Phil Lord and Chris Miller aren't afraid to make as clever as their sterling animated offering Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs. In live action land, Lord and Miller stretch Michael Bacall's screenplay into an impressive narrative, which deals with high school regrets and the changing face of teenagedom alongside a standard Cops & Robbers chase. High-school set films could learn a thing or two from 21 Jump Street's depiction of teenagers as often-segregated from the regular stereotypes; jocks, geeks and goths barely get a look in here.

The leads of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are ridiculously over-playing to great effect, Hill his normal ebullient self, Tatum finding a new streak of comedic charm; his first experience of Tripping Major Ballsack is a candidate for the film's best scene as the normally macho Jenko collides with the school band. Like, again, the rest of the best in class for the school dramas, this finds hilarity in the side players to keep the duo supported. Ice Cube is perfect as their superior, Rob Riggle is his own level of trademark demented, Dave Franco is necessarily smarmy.

At under two hours Lord and Miller's pacing is near-perfect as the film shunts through gears to a conclusion that goes for one too many bawdy laughs but still puts a satisfying wrapper over the mayhem. Rumours of a sequel though seem somewhat ill-advised: surely the only way to go from here is down, the film-makers perhaps suffering from 'Phase 3: Over-Falsity of Confidence'.




21 Jump Street is available via Google Play.

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