What is the cutoff point for nostalgia? When does a thing start being retro?
Well 21 Jump Street starts with an amusing “weren’t we funny then?” flashback to 2005.
Once you’re over that shock 21 Jump Street works pretty well as one of those ironic-nostalgic comedy movies based on TV shows that Hollywood has been turning out regularly since the mid 1980s (Dragnet is the first one I can remember, you’ll probably be able to think of a dozen others without too much effort).
It works even better as a commentary on, and parody of, those same movies. Not least because it features the most well-observed slightly homoerotic buddy cop montage in cinema history.
It isn’t even half bad as a hybrid police procedural / high school comedy.
Jonah Hill described the film as being an “R-rated, insane, Bad Boys-meets-John Hughes-type movie”. I’m struggling to think of a more succinct description.
The basic plot involves two police officers posing as high school students. If I do that on the internet, I always end up being cautioned by a police officer but apparently if you’re a maverick cop in a US high school it’s all perfectly fine.
Hill gives us his standard slightly nerdy performance as the smart but socially inept cop and Channing Tatum is great as his big dumb handsome popular jock partner. Ice Cube is so perfect as the apoplectic Police Captain that I think he should be the only person allowed to play apoplectic police captains in future.
There are some other people in this film too. There’s that chap from New Girl that looks a bit like early 1990s Capital Radio DJ Mick Brown for a start. And some other people I shouldn’t talk about.
In fact because it’s such a rollercoaster of one-liners and sight gags there’s hardly anything I can say about this film without in some way spoiling your enjoyment of it.
I’m not going to tell you about the running gag about how readily cars explode in action movies.
I’m not even going to tell you about the part where one character (I won’t specify which) gets his (or her) penis shot off. And has to retrieve it with their teeth.
It is brilliantly funny though, in that big daft grossout comedy action movie way that only modern Hollywood films starring Jonah Hill can be. It’s definitely worth seeing.
It’s just a shame they didn’t call it CSI:Kegger.