Jonah Hill Will Make You Jump, Jump: 21 Jump Street Review

 

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.

 

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Paul & AJ’s Top 10 Films of 2011

Paul and I rambled on and on about our favorites of 2011 in our second season finale, but that isn’t gonna stop us from rambling some more. This is the first in a series of top 10s that will be spread out over the next couple weeks; the rest will concern television, albums, and comic books.

But first, a word about lists. Paul has described my obsession with list-making as a “sickness,” and that’s probably close to the truth. However, even one such as I, beholden to rating and ranking everything known to man, know that these kinds of things are imperfect, to put it lightly. For one, no matter how all-inclusive you try to be, there’s always going to be a movie (or show, or comic, etc.) that you somehow missed; for example, as of this writing, neither Paul nor I have seen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Shame, or Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, just to name a few. And more importantly, lists are always subject to how their makers feel at the moment they’re making them. Each of our top 10s represent the movies we love right now, and with the exception of our #1 choices, their order could be fluid, changing from day to day, mood to mood.

Right now, though? These are the films we adore, and which we feel exemplify 2011.

~ AJ

PAUL: 10. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (dir. Rupert Wyatt)

The summer blockbuster that was better than any of us had any right to expect. Not only a remarkably capable relaunch/reboot of a beloved but dated franchise, but also just a damned good popcorn flick in its own right. Andy Serkis brings heart and humanity (pun intended) to the “inhuman” protagonist. It’s Pinocchio and Moses and Che Guevara.

AJ: 10. GEORGE HARRISON: LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD (dir. Martin Scorsese)

It has been lazy shorthand for decades to refer to George Harrison as the “quiet Beatle,” and though that might have a kernel of truth to it, the man himself was far more complex. Publicly, he was quiet because he desperately hated fame; professionally, he was quiet during the Beatle years because John and Paul vetoed his material, and later, because he was content with tending to his family and to his garden. Martin Scorsese’s Bob Dylan documentary No Direction Home definitively captured that 60s icon’s brilliance and enigma, and while Living in the Material World doesn’t quite do the same for this 60s icon, it comes close enough. In the first part of this two-part doc, the entire life cycle of The Beatles is rehashed yet again, though considering it’s Scorsese at the helm, it remains of interest. It’s in the second part, however, when things truly come alive. By telling of his unsung career as a film producer, enticing candid stories from a number of those closest to him, and showing private home movies, Scorsese paints a portrait of Harrison as a man perpetually struggling to reconcile his spirituality with his materialism, caught between divinity and mortality.

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