21 Jump Street ★★★★

This film is comedy gold. It really is. 21 JUMP STREET's young narcs in high school has a simple fish-out-of-water comic premise. However, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are craftier than that. Creating a feature-length comedy around such a low-hanging fruit is just not their style. They feed off layers and layers of complexity--even for a film that lives for sex jokes and a very rudimentary criminal plot. Raising the ceiling for humour potential here is the genius notion of body-switching (of sorts) Hill and Tatum once they're working undercover in a high school. Hill becomes popular and Tatum becomes the outcast in a high school system that has grown more woke and tolerant in the few years since the two graduated. And of course the further layer of comedy comes from the fantastic self-aware, self-deprecating comic chemistry of the two leads.

I often rail against the simplicity of sex jokes. 21 JUMP STREET is a prime example of a film that mostly gets them right. Even when such jokes fall flat, there are two amiable leads who are all about creating freshly comic, yet adequately rounded characters, without being loud or obnoxious. It's been 7 years. Time for another JUMP STREET, or at least another comic outing from each of these duos: the hilarious male-lead duo on screen and the refreshing directing duo behind.
B+

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