While Hollywood continues to go mad for remakes, 21 Jump Street shows exactly how it should be done, referencing the original in a knowing way that occasionally edges towards parody, but which never destroys the legacy of the original as other remakes tend to. The film uses the 1980s cop show that launched Johnny Depp as a clever foundation, using that show’s conceit that high-school would essentially always be the same to comic effect when the undercover duo (played by Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum) head back to school to discover that everything has changed.
The success of the film of course relies upon the chemistry between the two leads, and indeed the comic dynamic: despite the fact that we might expect Jonah Hill to steal the show in comic terms, he is rather understated, and there isn’t a great deal of comic bogarting from either of the leads. They work well together, convincingly affectionate and fractious when necessary, and even when the plot takes it more unconventional (and often flat-out ridiculous) swerves, the most successful elements of the film are usually those which feature Hill and Tatum bouncing off one another.
Both actors offer hugely welcome performances, gently riffing off each of their assumed on-screen identities, based on former film roles to success, and happily never descending into bitter, self-critical caricatures as could well have been the case. The decision to flip the stereotypes so that Tatum’s jock is ostracised and Hill’s geek is popular is a particularly fine move, and it adds extra comic depth to the performances.
There’s also a strong supporting cast, including a typically smarmy performance from Dave Franco, but it’s not all successful with an obnoxious and rather stereotypical showing from Ice Cube failing to land as many laughs as the writers and Ice Cube himself obviously seem to think it would have.
And crucially, of course, it’s funny. The drug sequence in particular is quite easily one of the finest comedy scenes of the year, but there are occasionally inappropriate beats, where the adult material gets a little bit too much in comparison to the rest of the film’s tone. It’s not that they are fatal by any means, but they just stick out like sore thumbs – little flashes of oddity that just don’t mesh well with the rest of the film.
But is it worth investing in the blu-ray? After all, it’s not just about the film itself these days.
An impressive and solid transfer, if not quite dazzling. Fine detail, textures and black levels are fine, but the image is consistently duller than you might expect from a blu-ray, and especially a comedy, which tend to be on the brighter side. It isn’t particularly fatal for the viewing experience, but it does mean interior scenes are a touch on the dark side, and skin tones can fade as a result. Other than that though the blu-ray looks great.
The audio track fares better, with perfect clarity in both music and dialogue. Surround support and ambient noise are equally as good, and sound effects are suitably bombastic when necessary. A very good soundtrack all round.
A pretty good selection, though not of the very top drawer. The commentary is high-energy and entertaining, but not for the purists, as there’s a little too much laughter going on that occasionally muffles the actual content of the commentary.
There’s also a good collection of deleted scenes, and a handful of featurettes variously dedicated to filming the freeway scene, the changing state of high-school, the Hill/Tatum dynamic, Johnny Depp’s cameo and Rob Riggle, with the last two carrying the unmistakable whiffs of self-congratulation and sycophancy. Still, they can be a fun watch, it’s just not particularly likely you’ll ever watch them multiple times.
In typical modern fashion, there’s both a gag-reel and a Line-O-Rama reel (I have to confess to hating that silly term), which here focuses on multiple takes by sometimes rapper Ice Cube. And here was me thinking he must have nailed everything in just the one take…
- Audio Commentary with directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller as well as Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum.
- Deleted Scenes (30 mins): Not So Slim Shady, Meet Captain Dickson, Teenaging the F*ck Up, More Rules of Jump Street, Meet the Schmidts — Extended, Lunch Plans, Principal’s Office — Extended, Marigold and Levy Commercial with Mr. Gordon, Law & Order with Mr. Gordon, Ms. Griggs’ Lesson on Bonds, Jenko Joins the Band, Late Night Chat, My Character & Your Character, The Nerds Discover Alcohol, More Partyin’, Awesome Dr. Pepper Joke, Braggable Stuff, Eric’s Last Chance for Happiness, The Bad Guys Go to Jail, and Jump Street Flashback.
- Gag Reel (5 mins).
- Cube-O-Rama (2 mins)
- Back to School (8 mins)
- Brothers in Arms (6 mins)
- Johnny Depp on Set (5 mins)
- The Rob Riggle Show (9 mins)
- Peter Pan on the Freeway (4 mins)
- Previews: Safety Not Guaranteed, Lockout, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, That’s My Boy, Underworld: Awakening, and The Raid: Redemption.
- UV Digital Copy.