’21 Jump Street’: The Reviews Are In!

Critics mostly agree that Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum's undercover cop comedy is 'a vibrant reboot of a rather forgettable '80s TV series.'
By Eric Ditzian

Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill in "21 Jump Street"
Photo: Sony

Where my laughs at?

We've been suffering through a far-too-serious start at the 2012 box office. The first three-and-a-half months of the year have been dominated by weepy dramas ("The Vow"), kid-friendly animated fare ("The Lorax"), middling horror flicks ("The Devil Inside") and films that should have kept geek flags around the country flying high but instead could barely inspire a gust of nerdy enthusiasm ("John Carter," "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance"). Even the adventure-comedy "Journey 2: The Mystery Island" — #4, somehow, on the year's top-grossing-movies list — elicited more forehead-smacking guffaws than genuine belly laughs.

"21 Jump Street" is about to change all of that. As our friends over at NextMovie put it, Jonah Hill's new film is the "first must-see comedy of the year." The majority of critics agree, praising the movie's big laughs, star players and killer supporting performances. Read on for a deep dive into the "21 Jump Street" reviews.

The Story
"Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as novice cops who are forced to go undercover as high-school students to bust up a drug ring? Come on, that movie's going to blow, right? But '21 Jump Street' doesn't blow — which could have been this movie's raunchy, self-deprecating tagline if it didn't already have several. '21 Jump Street' isn't a wild, fresh reinvention of the movie-cliché-spoofing genre — this isn't 'Airplane!' we're talking about — but it's also not a drearily overfamiliar retread of it." — Dana Stevens, Slate

The Laughs
"A vibrant reboot of a rather forgettable '80s TV series sounds nearly impossible to pull off. And yet '21 Jump Street' accomplishes it with a fresh script, flip humor and inspired casting. ... It's no surprise that Hill, as bumbling officer Schmidt, generates so many laughs. But who would expect Tatum, as the dimwitted officer Jenko, to be so comical? More often cast as a standard heartthrob — most recently in the sappy 'The Vow' — Tatum holds his own with Hill and every other comic actor in the film. Their chemistry is terrific." — Claudia Puig, USA Today

The Supporting Players
"Rob Riggle as a blustery coach, Chris Parnell as a self-important drama teacher, Jake Johnson as a fed-up principal, Ellie Kemper as a science teacher with the hots and then some for Jenko -- they're all about as hilarious as can be while barely being there. With Jenko falling out with Schmidt, Schmidt falling for classmate Molly (the utterly adorable Brie Larson) and Capt. Dickson breathing down both of their necks, there are already plenty of hijinks to go around, and that's not even mentioning a couple of cameos." — William Goss, Film.com

The Dissenters
"At times '21 Jump Street' seems sufficiently clever and sly to avoid the pitfalls that befall most movie adaptations of TV series. In the early going, it mocks its own existence, its embrace of clichés, and, indeed, the very conceit at its heart. ... But directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller quickly abandon any pretense that they wish to puncture the silliness of the idea and, instead, embrace it. And after that capitulation, the film becomes a hit-and-miss hodgepodge of plotting and jokes redolent at least as often of desperation as of inspiration." — Shawn Levy, The Oregonian

The Final Word
" '21 Jump Street' admits from the start, in a nicely timed and very meta joke, that it's really just an attempt to mine the past for nostalgia and ideas -- in this case, adapting a somewhat beloved '80s TV show about undercover cops in high school. But while that might have been Sony's goal when they set up the movie with star and producer Jonah Hill, the movie itself is more of an excuse to combine a surprisingly touching buddy story with wild, absurdist comedy.... Unpredictable and very silly but with real emotional stakes, '21 Jump Street' makes up for a shaggy script with a wily, endearing energy that feels like anything but a tired retread." — Katey Rich, Cinema Blend

Check out everything we've got on "21 Jump Street."

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