Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Movie Review: 21 Jump Street (109 minutes - R)

I was a huge fan of the original 21 Jump Street TV show.  It was part of the late genius Stephen J. Cannell created masterpieces, which also included: A-Team, Greatest American Hero, Hunter, Renegade, Marker, and Cobra.  I loved all of these!  All of his shows were great - and if you want to catch him in front of the camera - he did repeatedly play himself on a few Castle episodes right up until he died, and he did star in the truly magnificently terrible SyFy production Ice Spiders.
In any case - one of the brilliant things Cannell created was 21 Jump Street, which originally aired 1987 through 1991 and is the reason you know who Johnny Depp is.  Each of the Jump St. personnel was selected for their ability to pass for high school or college students, allowing them to operate undercover in areas where it is difficult for regular police officers to blend in unnoticed.  This special group was based out of an old church at 21 Jump Street.  The first season featured four cops (Depp, Peter DeLuise, Holly Robinson Peete (who sang the theme song) and Dustin Nguyen working under Sal Jenko as their captain (the reason Channing Tatum's character in the new one is called Jenko).  He lasted less than one season and was replaced by the awesome Steven Williams's Captain Fuller.  Over the seasons, other cops came and went - most notably Richard Greico's Booker.  As the story goes, Johnny Depp became upset that he was marketed as a 'teen heartthrob' and started sabotaging the show by showing up with marbles in his mouth - or routinely changing his lines.  He has recently said he regretted that behavior and recognizes the show for starting his career.  The show was groundbreaking and covered some serious issues for high schoolers that were not being dealt with on other shows at the time: drugs, interracial dating (gasp!), AIDS, and bullying. 
The new movie has a similar idea to the show - but that is almost where the similarities end.  The new movie is a straight up R-rated comedy.  Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum play young police officers who get assigned to the reinstated Jump Street program, where IceCube plays their 'angry black captain'.  They go undercover to break up a drug ring in a local high school led by Dave Franco - who is equally as odd and watchable as his older brother. 
I have to say - due to my love of the original, I fully expected to hate this movie.  However, I laughed harder watching it than I have laughed watching any movie since Bridesmaids.  It is really funny.  It is a very hard R in the language department.  I found this odd because it seems like a strange choice.  If the target audience was high schoolers - which it sometimes feels like it is, then tone down the language for a PG-13 rating so they can see it.  If the target audience is my age group - who were fans of the original - tone down the language and give us more from the original member cameos.  The movie did not benefit from the language and could easily have been a PG-13 without it, and been equally as funny.  That being said, I still enjoyed it. 
Something I found really funny was the discussion of how the perception of "being cool" in high school constantly changes.  When Hill and Tatum's characters were in high school together, dumb jocks were cool, science geeks were not.  Now when they head back, dumb jocks are not cool, and evironmentally conscious theater geeks are in.  Tatum does have a hilarious scene in which he blames "Glee" for the change.  The two work together, testing the limits of their friendship, to identify the drug dealers and go after the supplier - who they take down during prom (of course). 
Jonah Hill is funny - this is not a surprise to anyone, the surprise was how good he was in Moneyball - where he was not funny.  The surprise is Channing Tatum - who is hilarious!  If you caught his SNL appearance earlier this year, then you knew he had the potential to be funny, but he really delivers in this.  Franco the younger is good in the role he has - smarmy better-than-you hipster high schooler.  Rob Riggle shows up playing Rob Riggle the high school teacher, and Ellie Klemper and Chris Parnell also play teachers that require little stretching for them, but they are both so funny - you don't want to see them stretch, you just want them to be funny.  The buzz around this movie has always been that Johnny Depp might have a cameo!  So I'm not spoiling that for you, but Spoiler Alert!:  Each of the original four TV cops shows up - Peete, Depp and Deluise play the characters they played on the TV show, and Nugyen, who must not have been available (?) shows up on a TV screen.
All in all - if you are prepared for the language, and that type of thing doesn't bother you, and you're not looking for something that is anything like what the TV show used to be,  then you'll really enjoy this.  The action sequences are really well done - and the funny bits are genuinely funny. 
8 out of 10.
Lost points for the language - I must really be getting old!  Gained points for the cameos - genius.  Lost points for the video-game style description of the drug's effects, although it was effective.  Gained points for the interplay between Tatum and Hill - to be honest, the best part of the show was the interplay between DeLuise and Depp.
Here's your bonus video - clips from an old episode of Jump Street:

Also, thinking about how much I love Stephen J. Cannell shows made me want to put the themes from all of them here.  I loved the Lorenzo Lamas desert drama Renegade, if you've spent any time with me, I'm sure you've heard me quote the show opening a few times.  However, I decide to go with Cobra, which I belive I am the only person who watched the entire series.  Because I love Michael Dudikoff - he is the American Ninja, after all.

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