Retired TV series returns from early ‘90s to hit the big screen

By Aaron Davison

The trend to remake classic retro TV shows from the 60s, 70s and 80s on the silver screen continues with the newest comedy from Columbia Pictures, “21 Jump Street.” Loosely based on an old TV series of the same name, the difference is there was more drama in the show; the movie is a comedic take on the 1980s program.
Scheduled to be released in theaters nationwide on Friday, March 16, the film stars Jonah Hill (“Superbad”) and Channing Tatum (“The Vow”). Their characters are two bumbling undercover detectives trying to combat drug dealers in a high school.
The “21 Jump Street” series originated in 1987 and ran as a weekly hour-long program until 1990 on Fox network; it was the first series of its kind. The show’s plot involved young undercover police officers that disguised themselves as students in high school to bust teens selling drugs.
Actor Jeff Yagher portrayed the leader of the Jump Street detectives, but was soon replaced by Johnny Depp. With the change of the main character, the series took off as a wild TV-ratings success.
In the 2012 remake, the entertaining buffoonery and banter between the two nimble-witted, supposed high school students leads to many hilarious moments. The two detectives attended high school together a few years earlier and came away with different experiences, which plays out in the character development.
Hill’s character Norton was a geeky student who was bullied by Tatum’s character, Greg, who was a goof-off and slacker that hung out with the popular crowd. When the two cross each other’s paths at the Metropolitan Police Academy, Greg doesn’t get the best grades on tests and Norton struggles with his physical fitness. Therefore, Greg turns to Norton for help and vica-versa; Norton tutors Greg to get his test-scores up while Greg schools Norton in athletics. The two quickly become friends as they graduate from the academy as police officers — but not the type you would expect.
As a result, they start their new job as bike cops patrolling a park. Their first bust they take down a giant, scary biker for possession of drugs; but their inappropriate misconduct in public causes them to be called into the boss’ office. They are then sent to the program which makes them high school undercovers.
This is when Ice Cube’s character, Captain Dickson, is introduced. Ice Cube’s high usage of curse words in the movie is distracting, but he still manages to be humorous. Dickson tells Norton and Greg that there is a new synthetic drug being sold and the ring leader is a high school student.
Eventually, they infiltrate the drug ring and discover who the mastermind is by pretending to be drug dealers. The last scene of the movie is the funniest by far, with lots of fast-paced action and a surprise ending.
While having low expectations, “21 Jump Street” will probably be one of the most outrageous movies this spring. The plot is basically about two guys who seem to hate each other, but after crossing paths again develop a newfound respect. The casting of the main characters was dead on, as Hill, Tatum and Ice Cube all give terrific performances. As far as the action scenes are concerned, there are few, but the comedy makes up for the loss of edge-of-your-seat excitement.
Phil Lord, mostly known for the hit animated 2009 film, “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” directs the film. Now with the addition of “21 Jump Street” to his resume of comedies, Lord can be now known for directing another extremely funny film (although the movie could have done without the extreme amount of bad language). Audience members who stick around for the credits can see bloopers of the actors messing up their lines. One thing is for certain: Everyone who sees this film should be prepared to laugh out loud until their stomachs hurt.