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Monday, April 23, 2012

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(Published in City Express, The New Indian Express, on 21 April, retrieved from

Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Dave Franco, Rob Riggle, DeRay Davis, Brie Larson, Ellie Kemper
Director: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Rating: 3.5 stars
You know that awkward moment when you find a former schoolmate whom you never really got to know because you never really liked because s/he was never really anything like you is now a colleague? Well, so that’s how Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) reunite, eight years after graduating high school. Geek and jock land up at the same police academy, thanks to the turns life takes.
They never really liked each other, but they never really disliked each other, so they bumble along till they botch up the one interesting incident on their beat. They arrest druglord Domingo (DeRay Davis), but have to let him go on a technicality, and that spins them into a world of psychedelia and trauma – either because of their ineptitude, or luck, they’re reassigned to 21, Jump Street, a division of the police that specialises in infiltrating high schools for drug busts. Their boss, the aptly named Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) makes a great show of his incredulity at the existence of two such imbeciles.
So, Schmidt and Jenko are asked to go undercover at a high school, which Domingo is believed to have ties with. Conveniently, they went to the same high school, located within shouting distance of the Schmidts’ home. They move in with Schmidt’s parents, and pretend to be brothers. Predictable running gags follow. And since all of this ultimately has to do with geek living jock’s life and vice versa, revelations and showdowns follow.
The high school staples make their way here – the PE teacher who witnesses everyone’s goofballness (Rob Riggle), a lusting schoolteacher who fancies her students (Ellie Kemper), the cooler-than-cool popular guy (Dave Franco), the beautiful-but-sweet popular girl (Brie Larson), and the bad guys on bikes that the cool guys in school get mixed up with.
Thanks to Jenko’s paucity of cognitive skills, he and Schmidt end up rewriting their own lives by living each other’s, in their second tryst with high school. While at it, they get deeper into the drug-dealing business than they intended. Naturally, Schmidt ends up doing the dangerous stuff, while Jenko gets slightly effeminised, what with playing Peter Pan and whining after he eavesdropped on Schmidt dissing him.
The humour is mostly slapstick, but there are a couple of lines that will make you laugh out loud, and the dialogue delivery from Jonah Hill is especially good. The climactic scenes are nicely timed, though some of the action sequences – like most film action sequences – are rather too long, and you’re waiting for what you know will happen to happen.
Of course, a Hollywood action comedy is usually covered in bubble wrap, and this is no exception. But, it doesn’t grate, and we get some relief from an unexpected cameo.
The Verdict: Both the films I watched on Friday followed the idiot-saves-the-day formula, but I found this one far more entertaining.


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