Watching Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s film adaptation of the popular 80’s T.V. show 21 Jump Street, one can only be reminded of Wes Craven’s teen-slasher parody Scream. In1996, Scream proved successful because its sardonic style was an unflinching portrayal of Hollywood’s climax in the dry predictability of its youth oriented films. JumpStreet is a playful, yet painful, example of the complacency filmmakers have come to find in Scream’s mockingly strait faced style.
The Jump Street T.V. series aired from 1989-1991, and was a police procedural drama that investigated the crimes and issues affecting teens. Lord and Miller’s Jump Street (cooperatively penned by Lord, Miller, Jonah Hill, and Michael Bacall) tries to replicate and amp up this journey into youth culture by bringing Jump Streetto the 21stCentury. In Jump Streetwe see Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill), an Eminem wannabe high school geek and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum), an all American football Jock, reunited years later in police academy only to overcome the friendship barriers between nerd and socialite.
Schmidt and Jenko get assigned a mission by the extraordinarily profane Captain Dickenson (Ice Cube) to infiltrate a high school drug ring, which is complicated by their having to navigate the drastically evolved high school culture of the present. Jump Street hits a similar note as previous high school expose flicks like Brick (2006)and The Assassination of a High School President(2008) and shows that Lord and Miller’s adept ability to deride teenage mores hasn’t faltered since their Clone High years.
Jump Street makes goofy comments on the eco friendly and oddly accepting nature of teens today and it’s in these moments that the film shows that it couldhave something good to say. But Jump Street doesn’t follow these currents for very long, often getting lost in improbable slap stick sequences that function as time killers. Most surprising is that for a film that shows that its writers are so in tune with teenage trends, Jump Street takes dangerously non-chalant attitude towards issues of teenage gun violence (Hill and Tatum go to prom strapped from the neck down with weapons). However, Hill and Tatum’s humping suspects amongst other funny antics is just funny enough to make their shenanigans enjoyable for the most part, instead of just a comical allusion to the ignorance that pervades those who we choose to serve and protect.