There is an absolutely perfect line in '21 Jump Street' that sums up the sardonic wit that the movie surprisingly contains in spades. Two knucklehead cops (Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill) sit down in front of their police chief (Nick Offerman) to try and explain how they were dumb enough not to read their most recently arrested suspect his Miranda Rights. The chief has had it up to here with these guys and he's ready to ship them off to an undercover assignment so he doesn't have to deal with them anymore. The chief explains, "We're reviving a canceled undercover project from the '80s and revamping it for modern times. The people behind this lack creativity and they've run out of ideas, so what they do now is just recycle shit from the past and hope that nobody will notice." Does dialogue get more perfect than that? This movie knows exactly what it is. It knows that people will have reservations about seeing yet another remake from Hollywood, but it capitalizes on that. It takes its own perceived weaknesses and makes them into strengths. That requires clever writing.
Jenko (Tatum) and Schmidt (Hill) are the cops mentioned above. The story begins as they're both in high school in 2005. Jenko is the hunky popular football player; Schmidt is the dorky pudgy nerd with braces desperately trying to be cool by dying his hair the same color as Eminem. Jenko picks on Schmidt and Schmidt takes it.
Fast forward to the present day. Jenko and Schmidt are long since graduated and both of them are trying to join up for the police force. They decide to put their high school experiences with each other in the past and team up. Schmidt is a brain and helps Jenko pass the police exams; Jenko assists Schmidt in the more physical aspects of being a police officer. They don't make very good cops though. They're immature and arrogant. When they're sent by the chief to their new undercover detail, they're tasked with hunting down the dealers and suppliers of a new drug that has been making the rounds at a local high school.
The trailers didn't do '21 Jump Street' any favors. They more or less played up the fact that Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill were in a back-to-high-school comedy movie and that was about it. The trailers never played up the fact that '21 Jump Street' might be the most self-aware comedic remake that has been done. Because of this awareness the movie succeeds by dumping on itself with loads of self-deprecating humor. It pokes fun at itself, it pokes fun at buddy cop movies, it pokes fun at action movies. There's nothing that's off limits here.
Much of the movie's success is largely the work of the directing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Two guys who, before this, directed 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' together. Another movie that seemed like a straightforward adaption, but took an unexpected turn because of ingenious comedic writing and over-the-top situations.
Honestly, you'd never expect a movie like this to be this clever. It has no business being this smart, but it is. The movie's tongue is buried deep within its cheek and it's winking at the same time. It doesn't take itself too seriously. You can tell they had a whole lot of fun making it, and you should have a whole lot of fun watching it.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'21 Jump Street' is distributed by Sony. The Blu-ray comes on a 50GB disc. It comes packaged in a standard Blu-ray Disc keepcase. There is an UltraViolet Digital Copy included. The disc is labeled as being a region free release.
Sony has had great success bringing just about anything to Blu-ray. I have but one complaint with the otherwise flawless 1080p presentation and it has nothing really to do with the transfer itself. The one drawback to this otherwise delightfully sound video presentation is that the CG special effects used in the movie stick out like a sore thumb. CG is inserted from time to time, especially in the action scenes, and whenever it's used you can easily tell because of the HD experience, and at times it looks really bad.
Other than the enhanced awfulness of most of the CG work in this movie, the rest of it looks great. Fine detail is wonderfully revealing, whether it's a close-up of Hill's closely cropped bleached blonde hair or the smooth texture of their throwback prom tuxedos, it really pops. Colors are the same way. They're very well saturated. Daylight scenes feature striking primaries, whereas nighttime shots have gratifying blacks. Skin tones stay natural throughout.
I didn't notice any aliasing, banding, or other artifacting problems as I watched. It's a technically proficient release, it's just that those CG effects really are pretty ugly at times and that high-def accentuates a negative there.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is pretty near perfect, particularly for a talkative comedy. The one thing I noticed right off the bat about this audio mix was how clear the dialogue is and how important that is to the overall enjoyment of the movie. Jonah Hill's specific brand of comedy calls for many off-hand comments that are usually said just off screen or under his breath. There are plenty of those kinds of moments, with the center and front channels picking the dialogue perfectly. You'll be glad it does since there are quite a few really funny lines that could've been lost or garbled if this would've been a lesser mix.
As for the other technical aspects of the movie's mix; LFE is strong and resolute throughout the movie. There are plenty of explosions and a handful of hip-hop songs on the soundtrack to keep the low-end pumping. Rear channels feature quite a bit of activity. A good example of this is the party that Jenko and Schmidt throw at their house. Kids can be heard screaming, yelling, and laughing in the rear speakers, placing you right in the middle of the hormone-fueled mayhem. Panning effects are smooth. Directionality (I refer you to the bit I explained about the off-screen dialogue coming in loud and clear) is stunningly clear and nicely prioritized. Just another great-sounding audio mix from our friends at Sony.
I have to admit that expectations weren't really all that high for this movie. Not only were my mediocre expectations met, at the end of the movie I not only found myself wanting to watch it again right away just to get some of the lines I may have missed while I was laughing, but I found myself hoping that this entire cast of actors and filmmakers get together for a sequel as soon as possible. This is one of the funnier movies you'll see all year. With great audio and video, you really can't go wrong. Highly recommended.