feedingbrett’s review published on Letterboxd:
Review In A Nutshell:
The Lego Movie was one of my favourite films from 2014; it showed directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord at the top of their creative game; a film that wins the hearts of both children and adults, shared by a passion for the product. It was an eye opener for me; proof that these directors had potential to be the next big thing for animation and comedy (though I have yet to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatball and its sequel). 21 Jump Street was my introduction to their sense of style; a style that was different and progressive, at the time of the film's release. Coming back to this, over a year later has made me re-evaluate my feelings towards it.
No doubt, many of the film's surprising elements are less effective the second time around, but it is the subtle details that the directors give to the material that made the experience all the more enjoyable. The film manages to be predictable but also self-referential; whenever it has something clichéd to deliver, it counter-acts it moments later. Under the hands of another filmmaker(s), the film probably would have been self-indulgent and overly silly, but under Miller and Lord's vision and intelligent touch, the film manages to be hilarious, outrageous, and original. The five stages alone of the drug's effects are worth the price of admission. 21 Jump Street keeps audiences on their feet with its humour, and balanced out with the addition of heartfelt moments between the two leads that keeps them somewhat grounded during the most intense of moments. The film's sense of threat in the two protagonist's relationship is both taken seriously and made fun of; though the film takes a traditional route in its plot-line, it does make fun of it enough that one could simply not care for or shrug off its elementary approach.
It helps tremendously that the two leading actors are wonderful on screen together; they pay off each other so well that even the little things they do come off as funny. They slip into their stereotypical personas and unconsciously make fun of it enough that their outer shells begin to break. Even the sadder moments of the film were convincing because of the way they play off of it. Even Ice Cube, who plays the stereotypical aggressive black captain, was hilariously committed; showing great understanding of what the role needs that his performance displays faithfulness but also with a hint of self-aware parody. Brie Larson as the love interest was sweet and balanced in the role, giving Jonah Hill's character some depth that reveals the horrors of his past but also a sensitive charm to his personality that the earlier parts of the film denied him for. No doubt, the film could have given her part a bit more to do, but it would run the risk of this film running too long. Dave Franco as the school dealer had his small moments to shine, but the directors kept him in small enough doses so that his character would remain plausible and grounded throughout; it would be too excessive if everyone in the film had a bombastic and odd personality.
21 Jump Street manages to do what many comedies in recent years fail to deliver; the element of surprise. The jokes in this film come at you when you least expect it; and when they do come, they hit hard. Many of the film's best qualities have been taken from this film into their successive films; ergo the reason why The Lego Movie was such a big success. Lord and Miller are master craftsmen who adore their influences, and intelligently place them all throughout the film. If there was one thing that brings this film significantly down, it would be the over-abundance of genitalia humour.