Good comedies are hard to find but the first film in the Jump Street series is also extremely hard to beat, even by its sequels, 22 and (the yet to come) 23 Jump Street. This co-directed (Phil Lord & Christopher Miller) 2012 action comedy seems to be a rare breakthrough in the comedy genre. From start to end it is purely, hilariously, crying-out-of-laughter funny.
The cliché is obvious from the get go, which places the film more on the satiric side, though not exactly. The typical jock Jenko (Channing Tatum) and the ultimate nerd Schmidt (Jonah Hill) were high-school enemies, but police academy has brought them closer together. Now partners, they are sent undercover to expose a high-school drug ring. This seemingly back-to-high-school genre introduces a clever twist when the partners discover that in this new day and age things are not quite as they remember them.
From slapstick, through meta, and up to plain weird the 21 Jump Street doesn’t hold back. It has a kind of sharp, realistic way to comment on life. For example, in the scene where the head of police shows Jenko and Schmidt the home-made film of a teenager using the new drug they actually say that “this kid rules”, which is one of the more honest responses I’ve heard in a while. It also transcends the tendency to portray high-school as an oversimplified stereotypic society where the jocks are popular and the rest don’t exist. This time teenagers are presented as actual people who care about the environment and are tolerant towards each other.
The jokes are countless and flow so naturally they almost seem improvised, and the balance between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum is just right – the awkwardness of one heightens the quiet indifference of the other. But never mind how you define this unique style of humor, the fact is that this film keeps you laughing for 109 minutes straight, a true rarity in the comedy industry.