Feature

21 Jump Street

Undercover cops infiltrate a high school.

Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
(R)

***

The biggest surprise about 21 Jump Street is that it’s actually pretty good, said Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times. Wisely, its creators “abandoned any pretense of being faithful” to its namesake 1980s TV drama, and instead have transformed that earnest series into “a mashup of screwball comedy, action, and The Odd Couple formula.” The movie “might as well have ironic quotation marks” around its title, because nothing is played straight, said Nathan Rabin in the A.V. Club. When the two cops, played by Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, go undercover in a high school to bust a drug ring, they’re repeatedly reminded by their classmates that they look middle-aged. Hill, who co-wrote the screenplay, is as solid as expected, while Tatum’s deft comic timing registers as a surprise. Together, these mismatched partners are “so much fun to watch” that it’s disappointing when the film devolves into a noisy action thriller, said Stephanie Zacharek in Movieline​.com. The “elaborate car chases and shoot-outs” of the final act betray the tossed-off spirit that made the first hour so appealingly silly.

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