Nobody would expect a serious movie that rehashed the ridiculous ‘80s cop show “21 Jump Street,” and it’s a relief that directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller don’t try.
Instead, they take the series’ too-hip formula — young-looking cops going undercover in high school — and turn it into a scathing parody of cop-show cliches, high-school hierarchies and even the idiocy of making old TV shows into movies.
Rookie partners Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum), who were nerd and jock rivals-turned-friends in high school themselves, are assigned to a reconstituted undercover division under the command of Capt. Dickson (Ice Cube, having fun with the “angry black commander” stereotype). Schmidt and Jenko are assigned to track down a drug dealer in one high school, where they discover the iPad age has upended the pecking order so that geeks like Schmidt are the popular kids and tough guys like Jenko the outcasts.
Lord and Miller (who made the animated “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs”) mine the script, by the suddenly hot Michael Bacall (“Project X”), for plenty of profane laughs as they set up Hill and Tatum as a hilariously off-kilter comedy duo.
‘21 Jump Street’
Opens today at theaters everywhere; rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, drug material, teen drinking and some violence; 109 minutes