In high school, Jonah Hill’s Schmidt was what his classmates would cruelly describe as a loser. He was overweight with close-cropped bleached hair, earning him the name “Not-So-Slim Shady” (after rapper Eminem’s alter-ego, Slim Shady). Making Not-So-Slim Shady’s life miserable was Jenko, the handsome, long-haired jock played by Channing Tatum.
Seven years later, Schmidt and Jenko find themselves in the police academy together, where they discover their different skill sets actually complement one another, leading to a close friendship. Upon graduation, they’re ready for a life of car chases and shoot-outs, but instead wind up on bicycles, patrolling a family-friendly park. When their first arrest is tossed out because Jenko forgets to read the perp his Miranda rights, the deputy police chief — played by “Parks and Recreation‘s” Nick Offerman in a clever piece of writing — sends them to the newly-revived 21 Jump Street program. Which means Schmidt and Jenko are heading back to high school, this time undercover as students.
The question: is any of this funny? The answer: yes! All of it is funny! Whether it’s Ice Cube as Captain Dickson lecturing about stereotypes, James Franco’s little brother, Dave Franco, as a popular high school drug dealer/environmentalist, or Rob Riggle’s gym teacher confronting Schmidt and Jenko while the two are tripping on a designer drug — a scene accompanied by hilarious visual effects — there’s barely time to catch your breath before you start laughing again.
The truth is, after “The Sitter,” Jonah Hill needed “21 Jump Street,” to win back his comedy credibility. A special shout-out as well to Channing Tatum, who should stick to this genre. He’s great at it.
After watching “21 Jump Street,” I can’t wait to see the sequel. And I hate sequels.
Four out of five Stars.