2012 Written by Michael Bacall & Jonah Hill
Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller
21 Jump Street is a hilarious and entertaining action comedy that manages to be a police story, commentary on modern high school culture vs. just a few years ago, buddy comedy, and meta humor behemoth. It far exceeded the meager expectations I had going into it (in yet another advanced free screening for the public – Tars has sold out once again! Dammit, Tars, stop selling out!) Updating the original series seems like it would be easy, as the plot (cops that look young are sent undercover into high schools) is simplistic enough that one fears the script being from the land of Generic. But no one working on 21 Jump Street hitched a ride on the lazy train, instead they shot for the moon, and now the moon’s head is hanging above their fireplace.
When I was younger, I watched episodes of the original series, but for some reason I can’t seem to remember anything at all about the show. Even being reminded by Wikipedia and a few fan sites has refreshed nothing, so I’ll have to watch a few episodes to get memories back. Or maybe my mind has been overwritten with more Martian secret agent memories again…
Meta humor is strong in this one, with characters commenting on their behavior, Ice Cube as the angry black captain telling people to embrace their stereotypes, and various goofs against remakes and police film cliches/tropes. The high school setting becomes a playground for skewering modern teenage culture with the texting and viral videos while the cops become fish out of water on multiple levels, Schmidt suddenly becoming popular while Jenko is stuck with hanging out with the chemistry kids.
Schmidt (Jonah Hill) – Former school loser turned undercover cop who finds new-found popularity thanks to how things have changed in the past few years. Becomes too involved in his fake identity as things begin to spiral out of control. Besides starring, Jonah Hill helped write the story for this remake.
Jenko (Channing Tatum) – Former jock who doesn’t like to study, who is accidentally thrown into the honors classes when put undercover at school. Jenko was the name of the original 21 Jump Street CO for the first few episodes before he was killed by a drunk driver. If there was a connection mentioned, I missed it.
Molly Tracey (Brie Larson) – Eric’s girlfriend who becomes Jonah Hill’s love interest as he tries to infiltrate/befriend Eric’s group.
Eric Molson (Dave Franco) – Drug-pushing hippie with rich parents who ignore him. Starts becoming in over his head, but too arrogant to back down. Dave Franco is James Franco’s brother, and looks like an “If they mated” for James Franco and Zac Efron.
Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) – Dickson is angry, black, and a captain. And proud of it.
We all knew there would be a Puss in Boots movie the second the image of Puss with his giant cute eyes became a computer desktop background months before Shrek 2: Dark Territory hit theaters. And while the Shrek series has been on a rocketship to planet Crap, Puss in Boots manages to be more entertaining than any Shrek sequel. And I’m not just saying that because I liked the film and saw it for free at an advanced screening. In fact, I had a bad time at the theater until the film started, thanks to some awful customer service that guaranteed I’ll never buy concessions there again. But the humor was good enough to calm my nerves and even get me happy again.
Puss in Boots is a spinoff of the Shrek films, but manages to feel somewhat independent of the Shrek universe while still being a part of it. There are still fairy tale elements running around, but the desert environments, Mexican flavor, and wild west inspiration give us a different spin. We follow our familiar character, Puss in Boots, as he has a prequel adventure that is both a story of its own and an origin story (done in flashback.) The decision to not make it a direct origin story, but to start from a familiar place and then go backwards before heading forwards was the right one. We already like Puss in Boots, and don’t need to be sold on liking him. The flashback to his childhood instead is plot related, making it feel important and not just filler.
Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) – Our title kitty is the solo hero this time out. And gives us some much-needed awesomeness on full throttle. Puss in Boots was always awesome, and he’s still awesome when the spotlight is shone on him.
Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) – The famous feline thief you may have heard of, but if you haven’t, it’s only because she’s robbed your memory. The greatest thief eve becomes the love interest for our feature.
Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) – Puss’s old pal who turned to a life of crime and roped Puss into it. Now reformed, he’s trying to recruit Puss into one last big score, robbing the goose that lays the golden eggs.