Though I wouldn’t have predicted this in a thousand years, and I’ve been skeptical of others who have claimed this before me, I’m here now to tell you 21 Jump Street…is actually good.
Obviously an “homage” (read: send up, parody, reimagining, whatever) of the late-80s teen police procedural of the same name that ran on the infant Fox Network, which dealt with young cops masquerading as high school students to investigate crimes. The 2012 film version focuses less on the teen drama and more on the comedy potential inherent in such a preposterous concept. And though there’s a surprisingly effective heart and maturity to some of the story (Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill share a real brotherly chemistry I wasn’t expecting), it’s the comedy that ultimately sells this. Special comedic thanks to Dave Franco, who along with Eliza Coupe was the only reason to watch the ninth and final season of Scrubs. He’s dopey and dim, with just a hint of dangerous, and is easily 50% of why you should see this movie.
Directed by the team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who previously brought us the criminally under appreciated animated film Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs (which, btw, watch it right now!), there are some sequences that play like a live action cartoon, in the best possible way. The screenplay is credited to Michael Bacall, co-writer of the 2010 masterpiece Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which itself played heavily with live action cartoonishness. A couple of Pilgrim actors turn up in this film, most obviously Brie Larson who played Scott Pilgrim’s ex Envy, and here plays romantic lead Molly. Less immediately obvious (but much funnier) is Johnny Simmons (Young Neil), with a brief but pivotal cameo.
There are countless shout outs and Easter eggs for the 80s TV fans, and though this adaptation goes more for laughs than the original series perhaps intended, I think old school (pun intended) fans will find a lot to like here.
The group routine that kicks of tonight’s festivities is a Bollywood number by veteran choreographer Nakul Dev Mahajan, set to the song “Kata Kata” from the RAAVAN soundtrack. Bollywood is almost always fun to watch, even when it’s not done particularly well. Fortunately the Top 14 dancers all do particularly well. It’s fast, hyperkinetic, and there are interesting things for every one of them to do. For once I don’t feel like the group number is playing favorites.
As all the dancers sweat and wheeze their exhausted way off the stage, host extraordinaire Cat Deeley reintroduces us to our judges. Two bits of good news tonight: first, Cat has sex-hair again; second, Carmen Electra is MIA (as in not there, not as in she’s secretly the singer MIA… oh nevermind.)
Welcome… to SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE!
Due to issues with our local FOX broadcast, I actually didn’t get to see the first few minutes of this episode. Sadly this means I missed what sounds to have been a pretty great group number by the Top 7 guys; something about the seven stages of grief, choreographed by Justin Giles and set to the song “Prague” by Damien Rice. And video of the performance is frustratingly missing from YouTube, so I just have to take everyone’s word for how great it was.
Cat Deeley, adorable as ever in a baby blue China doll dress, introduces us to our four, yes FOUR judges this week. Joining the usual suspects of Executive Producer Mr. Nigel Lythgoe and Hot Tamale Train conductor Mary Murphy is, for some strange reason, Carmen Electra. In light of how successful the guest judges have been up to this point I TRY to be open minded. But she happens to be seated right next to the ever-lovin’ Travis Wall in the fourth judges chair, which makes Ms. Electra seem even more pointless. Travis becomes, as far as I know, the first contestant-cum-choreographer-cum-judge in the history of the series. And (spoiler) he’s just as great at this as he is at everything else. Bastard.
Ladies and gentlemen, Cat Deeley is back! What more is there to say? The cute, sweet, adorable, cuddly (too far?) host and protective big sister we all wish we’d had returns, and just like that all is right with the world.
Oh yeah, and she brought some dancers with her.
So You Think You Can Dance kicked off it’s eighth season this week with a two hour auditions episode, focusing on the graceful (usually) chaos surrounding the tryouts held in Atlanta and the Bay Area. While the auditions aren’t the “meat” of this series, at least not for me, it’s an important part of the getting-to-know-the-dancers process. It’s here we get our first hints of the backstories and personalities of the kids we’ll be rooting for over the next several weeks. And it also gives us a barometer with which to measure the dancers growth over the course of the coming season. SYTYCD is not only a fun, emotional rollercoaster ride with some amazing athletes and performers, it’s also a bootcamp. Most of the contestants have never lived the life of full-time professional dancers, and the pace of this show and the sheer volume of choreography they’ll be expected to learn can be daunting, to put it insanely mildly.
Do any of these kids have what it takes to survive the SYTYCD meat grinder? Let’s see what we have to work with so far…