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21 Jump Street (2012)

Comedy Rated R

Well, how about that? It isn’t terrible! That was the general reaction to this big-screen adaptation of the 1980s television series about narcs going undercover in high school, and I’d concur. Other reviewers went further and cited it as one of the year’s top comedies, but for me that would require the ratio of d*@k jokes to actual laughs to skew more towards laughs. Jonah Hill (now you know what I mean about the d*@k jokes) and Channing Tatum star as two bumbling bike cops who are assigned to go undercover to bust a high-school drug ring. The central conceit – and it’s a good one – is that Tatum’s jockish prom king type no longer rules the school in 2012. Instead, it’s the former outcasts – like Hill’s dweeby Schmidt – who are in charge. (Tatum’s Jenko blames “Glee.”) Tatum shows a serviceable comic touch as a big man on campus whose world has been turned upside down. He eventually falls in with some science dorks, and there’s a nice throwaway scene in which he giddily joins them for some ill-advised experiments involving explosives. Much of 21 Jump Street has the same spirit of anarchy, so that the movie feels more like a guerrilla stunt than a soulless and cynical cash grab. Hooray for Hollywood, I guess.