Class Clowns and Cop Clowns: Jump Street Reboot is Junk


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"You shot him in thedick! I've never seen that!"Channing Tatum exclaimsas Jenks, a rookie coppartnered with the doughy,uncool Schmidt (Jonah

Hill) in 21 Jump Street.

The duo have not outgrowntheir adolescent rivalry orimmature sense of amusementthat began in highschool. Seven years later(after a police academytraining session ridiculouslyscored to The Clash'sversion of Junior Murvin's reggae classic"Police and Thieves"), they're sent backto high school as undercover cops. Lessaudience representatives than panderingrole models, they want moviegoers tolaugh at class clowns and cop clowns.

This nonsense comes from rebootingthe 1980s TV series 21 Jump Street,minus the cop-drama gravitas. Ironically,it exhibits the lowbrow humor currentlyfound on both network and cable TVshows-forms geared to the juveniletaste of 12-year-old boys, the gullibledemographic desperately sought after byadvertisers. Adults now embrace their

inner brat as a sign of cool, longing forthe irresponsibility of childishness. Theyaccept TV mediocrity and smuttiness inmovies like Knocked Up, The Hangoverand Bridesmaids. The downward spiralcontinues with 21 Jump Street.

Refashioning TV junk as if it wereenriched our cultural heritage, Hollywooddiminishes it. As that misappropriatedreggae song demonstrates, any possibilitythat pop culture can address socially,morally, politically important experienceis denied. 21 Jump Street's idiocyis personified in Tatum's tall-drink-ofretardation,Hill's rotund schmuck (arole he should have outgrown after DavidGordon Green's The Sitter) and later in acameo by Johnny Depp, star of the originalTV series, who is only fooling himselfif he thinks this meta-comic turn is equivalentto Marlon Brando spoofing Don VitoCorleone in The Freshman.

Consider: Brando seized the opportunityto comment upon The Godfather'scultural phenomenon that proved lessconscientious than he had hoped whensigning on to its gangster-movie allegoryfor corporate greed. (Could even Brando'sgenius have intuited that The Godfatherwould inspire a new cultural standard ofthievery and ruthlessness that even politicianssuch as The Sopranos fans Bill andHilary Clinton and Barack Obama wouldeventually endorse?)

Tatum, Hill and Depp are less conscientiousstars; they simply overlook theconsequences when trash ignores thecrisis of police brutality-a problem producerStephen J. Cannell had addressedin his exploitative TV mogul way by givingcop drama a hip-hop spin.

Now the spin is out of control. 21Jump Street is aggressively stupid farce.Its directing team, Phil Lord and Chris

Miller, can't cohere the tone of a singlescene, jumping from teen sap to grossouthumor almost schizophrenically.The relentless hodge-podge resembles aLMFAO music video-without the deliriumthat gives LMFAO their party-animalstyle. Frequent video game intertitles stealfrom Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; dancescenes, stunt scenes and explosions aremistimed, while the overly violent shootoutsimitate Pineapple Express.

This mess of dishonest intentions andcultural decline epitomizes the lack ofsincerity and imagination now passing forentertainment. 21 Jump Street has gottenbetter reviews than Jack and Jill, probablybecause it has nothing to do with realexperience; because it substitutes narrativedevelopment with explosions anduses dick jokes for the repressed tensionsof male bonding, as in Tatum's homoeroticpuzzlement when Schmidt befriends a

narc played by Dave Franco.

Perhaps thelowest point is Jenks and Schmidt's singsong

trivialization of the Miranda rightsadvisory; it's insulting to current urbansensitivities and reveals Hollywood'songoing juvenile comedy phase to bemindlessly offensive. 21 Jump Street isso obtuse it's as if the social satire of HotFuzz never happened.





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