For Reel

21 Jump Street (2012)
April 19, 2012, 8:01 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , ,

Director(s): Phil Lord & Chris Miller

After much discussion revolving around Pixar mavericks Brad Bird and Andrew Stanton making the transition to live-action filmmaking, the duo behind Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, snuck their way into the fold with the surprising critical and commercial success, 21 Jump Street, an adaptation that few saw any value in initially. Perhaps the picture’s popularity, however, says more about the dismal state of mainstream comedy than anything else. Like its predecessor in the excessively violent Pineapple Express, the film goes off the rails when it abandons its slacker comedy for the more serious, life-threatening stakes involving biker gangs, car explosions, and a dismembered penis. Whereas the former project had some charm in the able performances of James Franco and Seth Rogen, 21 Jump Street‘s stars are decent enough foil for one another, but have little of interest to do. In the midst of every other genre send-up, at the core of Michael Bacall’s script is a classic “body switch” comedy, only it never delivers with its bonding moments in the way that something as by-the-numbers as the Freaky Friday remake can. Mostly, though, the problem is not that the actors aren’t funny or the script doesn’t make some humorous observations (the “new” popular kids – hyper-sensitive and eco-friendly – are the film’s best running gag), it’s that Lord and Miller bring their manic, chaotic pace to the proceedings and never let up. There’s no sense of off-the-cuff, improvisational comedy – it seems to hurdle towards the finish line without allowing the actors, or by extension the audience, a chance to have fun with the characters.


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