When I first heard that this was coming to SXSW, I was surprised and frankly, it wasn’t at the top of my list. The trailer looked funny but I thought it would be just another “guy comedy” and not your typical Southby material. The film, however, has a significant connection to the festival. Jonah Hill said after the screening that he first thought about doing this movie five years ago at SXSW and last night came full circle when he saw it in front of an audience for the first time. “21 Jump Street” was better than I ever anticipated and might be the highlight of the fest so far.
If you have seen the old show or the trailer you know what the film is about: two cops get sent into a
high school undercover to discover a drug dealer in its midst. Although the film honors the TV show it is not just a remake but a “reimagining”. For me, the best thing about it was the modernization. It wasn’t just adding cell phones into an old-style situation but actually creating a scenario and environment that (while obviously extreme) feels like an appropriate one for modern times. More than that, the film doesn’t take itself seriously but does have all the real, touching elements we need to connect to the characters.
As Channing Tatum said, this is a “bromance” and really works by building that relationship. However, unlike the usual bro-comedy, I think it is an enjoyable story for women as well. Because it is such a reinvention of the original, those who loved the TV show will love this too. So don’t be afraid to go if you are not part of the “Superbad” coalition, you may find yourself liking this more than you think, as I did. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are worth the trip alone, hilariously oscillating between slapstick and satire with comedic ease. And if you get nothing else out of the experience, you will at least get to see Hill and Tatum put their hands in each other’s mouths.
Opens Friday, March 16
Directed by: Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum and Ice Cube