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21 Jump Street(2012)
A pair of underachieving cops are sent back to a local high school to blend in and bring down a synthetic drug ring.
For more about 21 Jump Street and the 21 Jump Street Blu-ray release, see 21 Jump Street Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on June 18, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Writers: Michael Bacall, Jonah Hill
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Dave Franco, Brie Larson (I), Rob Riggle
» See full cast & crew
21 Jump Street Blu-ray Review
Jump in and enjoy this excellent new spin on stale cinema.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, June 18, 2012
All they do is recycle s#!t form the past and expect us not to notice.
A little bit of honesty, a hint of integrity go a long way with audiences who want only a movie that acknowledges what it is and delivers full-on with its premise, eschewing some half-baked, play-it-safe excuse for a motion picture with a genuine cinema surprise that's all-in and takes no easy way out. Despite what studios might think, audiences aren't stupid, and they want something that doesn't insult their intelligence or spark yet another case of cinema déjà vu. But at the same time, audiences happily part with their hard-earned moviegoing dollar for the same kind of nonsense week in and week out, forking over what is now, it seems, a bundle of cash for the "privilege" of watching another tired remake, sequel, or project sourced from something off the long-dead scrapheap, whatever it is probably replete with a stale plot, a clichéd script, a generic rhythm, dull characters, and a celluloid middle finger subliminally hovering over every frame (particularly if the movie is in 3D). Studios see easy money, audiences see an air conditioned retreat; an easy date; an escape from reality; a few maybe even something they genuinely want to see, believing this is it, this is when they will finally get one right. In other words, they find an excuse to go to the movies rather than go to the movies with an expectant anticipation. Well, it's time audience wants finally collide with a studio re-imagining, when money spent is an honest good time earned. 21 Jump Street is the gloriously fun and grossly over-the-top adults-only exception to the cookie cutter rule. It slaps convention in the face, embraces its roots, and refuses to duck back under the safety net that's caught so many movies over the years. 21 Jump Street defies everything audiences know about these sorts of movies, knowingly accepting its place in cinema and happily and willingly bucking the trend that's dashed hopes and all but destroyed the magic of the movies. In other words, this is the one everyone's been waiting for.
You wanna be friends?
They were the flunky jock and the friendless nerd in high school. That was 2005, this is 2012. A lot has changed in that time, but much remains the same. Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum, The Vow) still can't pass a test and Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill, Superbad) still cannot make heads or tales of social situations. But fate has brought them together once again, reuniting them at police academy where their one-time acquaintanceship in the hallowed halls of high school means they're a natural fit for friendship as adults, even if they share almost nothing in common save for the uniform they wear. The truth is that they are the perfect duo; between them there's one good cop, a combination of athleticism, street smarts, and raw knowledge that makes them a force to be reckoned with -- if they can get on the same page and realize that police work isn't a real-life movie. When they bungle a bust, it becomes clear that this twosome would be better utilized as part of a revitalized program from the 1980s. Their mission: to pose as brothers and infiltrate a local high school where a new super drug, known as "HFS," is just getting off the ground. They are to wiggle their way into the dealers' inner circle and unearth the identity of the supplier making it all happen. But that won't be an easy task, particularly when their identities are swapped and Jenko is forced into advanced classes and the nerd-osphere while Schmidt must play the part of the jock and popular kid. Can they survive high school a second time, and survive it playing the part they loathed back in the day?
Embrace your stereotypes.
There are many things 21 Jump Street does well -- very well, really -- and only a few it does not-so-well, yet even when it comes to the latter the movie doesn't feel as if it's doing a disservice to its audience or taking the easy way, sneaking by and hoping nobody will notice amidst the deluge of positives on parade. Sure the entire "undercover," "drugs," and "big car chase/shootout at the end" elements lack general creativity, but it's what the film does with those elements down at the nitty-gritty detail level that allow them to contextually work and make the movie such a success. Even the end shootout and climactic car chase are handled with some novelty and either return to ideas introduced earlier in the film or work in some extreme verbal and physical elements that might be called "the 21 Jump Street way of doing things," which is to take a stale and tired idea and reshape it into something unexpected and very welcome. The result is a movie with nary a dull moment and those moments that audiences expect to be dull playing as anything but. 21 Jump Street never really feels like a re-imagining or a cheap, thoughtless plundering of old source material. That's the key here, that the movie is shaped in its own image rather than that of something from the past, that it playfully dances with the old 80s show rather than take it as its one and only. In essence, the title gives the movie a familiarity, and a few cameos and a handful of elements that hearken back to the original show are welcome, but 21 Jump Street is otherwise very much its own creature, defined by a sharp script, knowing direction, quick editing, and two fabulous lead performances.
I think you idiots are perfect.
To be sure, it's that merging of the scriptwriting, direction, editing, and acting that come together in near perfect harmony to create something that's both in the mainstream and out of it, cutting edge while sourced from the aged, clever and hip even if bulky, general elements appear superficially stale. Perhaps the film's finest asset is its refusal to take the easy, profitable road of a generic PG-13 venture. 21 Jump Street earns its "R" rating -- it really earns it; there are no corners cut here -- and does so gleefully and almost with a strange sense of superiority over lesser movies that have chosen to be something else because some studio bigwig decreed such, not because the movie was better off for it. But the key to 21 Jump Street is that the vulgarity doesn't feel forced into the movie at all. It's a natural extension of the 21 Jump Street World, and it's there because it should be, not because it can be, which is probably why it wasn't watered down for that sought-after PG-13 rating; anyone can see (and hear) that the crudeness shapes the movie, while it's the acting and directing that define it. Indeed, Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller find the perfect humorous cadence for the film, a cadence that accentuates the meshing of every element, including plot, characterization, language, physical gags, action, and absurdity. The movie consistently plays -- from the opening high school scene all the way to the sequel-promising closing seconds -- with the perfect rhythm of action movie slick and serious and over-the-top comedic fun. But for as extreme as it all appears to be, the movie feels always balanced and ready to tackle the next big thing it has in store, defined by an uncanny flow that leaves audiences in stitches and in anticipation for what's to come. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum absolutely nail the parts, the former playing a character who is like the younger, partially rejected smart but hesitant brother of Hill's own character in Moneyball, while Tatum finds a friendliness and self-assuredness even through his lack of smarts, making this the perfect on-screen pairing.
21 Jump Street Blu-ray, Video Quality
21 Jump Street's 1080p Blu-ray transfer appears consistently dim. The image is rarely what one might consider "vibrant," instead favoring a slightly drained brightness setting that leads to a few flat details, even in brighter exteriors. Certainly, bright natural greens, brilliant yellow school busses, and other lively hues impress in well-lit or daytime scenes, but many interiors struggle to find significant visual vigor. This leads to pasty skin textures and a general, evident, slight drain from "the norm." Details in those brighter scenes appear steady and impressive, nothing worthy of much fanfare in the greater Blu-ray universe, but sufficiently reproduced down to the finest little facial nuance, clothing line, or general object crispness and definition around the frame. The darker scenes remain steady, sharp, and focused, but never deliver much in the way of a "wow" factor. However, black levels impress throughout, and the image suffers from no immediately evident cases of banding, blockiness, or other eyesores. 21 Jump Street probably won't become a go-to title for Blu-ray video demonstration purposes -- it's technically proficient but visually bland -- but Sony's transfer shouldn't hinder one's enjoyment of the movie.
21 Jump Street Blu-ray, Audio Quality
21 Jump Street's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack excels with every new scene, each new sonic challenge. Music plays with supreme clarity through the entire range, from piercing highs to rattling lows, particularly evident in the many blaring popular songs that shape the movie's dynamics. Whether the opening Eminem tune or the din of music filling a house party in chapter eight, the track delivers clean, tough, precise notes that pull the listener into the movie. Surround support is evident and shapely, pleasantly immersive and more energizer when needed. Whether hardcore action scenes that spit out dynamo sonic elements from every corner of the soundstage or the pleasant din of a bustling school hallway, the track always seems capable of enveloping the listener in the action or environment, no matter how prominent and critical to the film or simply filling out the realism end of the spectrum. Gunfire blasts through every speaker in the big shootout at the end, while explosions send a strong wallop through the listening area. Dialogue is clean and accurate, flowing easily from the center channel and never forced to battle surrounding elements for front-and-center supremacy. This is a high quality, high output, highly enjoyable soundtrack from Sony.
21 Jump Street Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
21 Jump Street features a quality collection of extras, including a commentary track, plenty of deleted scenes, and several featurettes.
21 Jump Street Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
21 Jump Street is a raucous and verbally raunchy Comedy/Action hybrid that embraces its uncanny ability to source from older material and craft an end product that's barely recognizable by either 1980s or even 2011 standards. The movie isn't really new, it's more courageous, willing to do what it wants, on its own terms and in its own time, "play it safe" be damned. This is a movie that goes all-out, unabashedly releasing the proverbial hounds and allowing them to run loose and all over modern convention and cinema-think. But just because it's vulgar doesn't mean it's good. It's how naturally it all flows from the characters and the story that makes it work, and thank the clever script, incredible direction, and first-rate lead performances for making it happen. 21 Jump Street isn't your father's "21 Jump Street," and it's not even your older brother's lazy TV remake. This is a wonderfully unique little experience that's fun, funny, and one of the year's can't-miss movies. Sony's Blu-ray release of 21 Jump Street features quality video, strong audio, and a fine assortment of extras. This is one of the year's better Blu-ray releases, and it comes highly recommended.
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21 Jump Street Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: June 26-July 3 - June 24, 2012
One of this year's biggest surprises arrives on Blu-ray this week: 21 Jump Street. The film's early prospects were dire; few were clamoring for a big-screen adaptation of a dated 1980s television policier. However, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs directors ...
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