Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum play a couple of high school classmates who find themselves thrust back into the high school fish tank years after graduating – this time as undercover cops. But their investigation isn’t the only thing they have to figure out. They find that they have residual issues from their own high school experiences that they need to work through, and of course, they need to figure out how to deal with each other.
It makes for a surprisingly funny movie that entertains all the way through.
Two high school classmates – one a none too bright jock, and one a helpless dork – reunite after graduation at the police academy. There, they bond due to having complimentary skills. Hill’s character is the brains, and can help Tatum study, while Tatum is the jock who can help Hill train. After totally botching their first arrest, they’re sent to a high school undercover program due to their youthful looks. Their task is to infiltrate the local high school and buddy up to the dealers of a new synthetic drug, and work their way to the supplier so they can stop him before there’s an epidemic on the streets.
Hill and Tatum don’t actually fit in in today’s high school. Difficulties for the duo increase when Tatum flubs their identities early on, and the pre-fabricated covers for each of them are switched. Now Hill is expected to be the jock, and Tatum the brains. But even beyond that – Tatum, who was the popular one in high school, is now relegated in with the nerds, and Hill, who was the outcast in high school, is now in with the popular kids. Even though it’s an undercover assignment, the two find that that changes the dynamic between them, and they wind up playing out roles as if they were really going back through high school all over again.
The result is a movie that’s 1/3 Cop/Buddy Comedy, 1/3 Teen Party Movie, and 1/3 Fish out of Water Movie. It’s a fun mix. Tatum and Hill play off of each other really well, and the movie is cleverly written. There’s some really funny lines, and the overall plot/situations are pretty comical as well. They get help on a couple of different occasions from the supporting cast… Ice Cube is VERY funny as the angry Captain of the squad, Ellie Kemper is funny as the tempted teacher, and Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise show up when you least expect them, paying tribute to their “Jump Street” roots. Whether or not this movie sticks to the original show or not, I don’t really know, I didn’t watch it… but I will say I don’t think it matters much. They took the name and the high concept and worked it into something surprisingly saleable.
The direction here is good as well. Phil Lord and Chris Miller do an excellent job here in their first big screen live action effort (they collaborated on “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”). They keep a great sense of pacing and really help the comedy along with their editing. I hope they stay on for the inevitable sequel.
Because this movie will definitely get a call back. Reviews are good, and it opened well last night. I don’t want to get carried away, because I think if anything, this movie is going to get a little overrated coming out of the gate. But I was cracking up through most of it and enjoyed it all. It didn’t quite finish as strongly as it opened, but it was surprising how funny it was along the way. Tatum and Hill make a great duo, and I’ll definitely look forward to seeing them reprise these roles in a sequel.