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SXSW 2012 Review - "21 Jump Street" (Wake Me Up When It's Over)

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act March 15, 2012 at 3:37PM

I’ll just keep this short and sweet and say that the movie just wasn’t for me; others in the audience seemed to really love it though, laughing at every little joke – and not just laughing, but laughing accompanied by screaming, fist pounding, feet kicking, cackling and much more.
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21 jump street

I’ll just keep this short and sweet and say that the movie just wasn’t for me; others in the audience seemed to really love it though, laughing at every little joke – and not just laughing, but laughing accompanied by screaming, fist pounding, feet kicking, cackling and much more.

Maybe it was just the energy of the environment we were in – a large theater, SXSW, close to night-time; maybe a few had some liquor in them, maybe a few took some hits before entering the theater… or maybe they just loved it and I didn’t, and it’s as simple as that.

I wouldn’t consider myself much of a fan of Jonah Hill nor Channing Tatum, so strike 1 came before I even entered the theater; that and the fact that the initial multi-culturalism that I think many appreciated about the original TV series is pretty much nullified in this film adaptation, as is the concept of "team." Just call it the Hill and Tatum show, because that’s what it is, with lots of silly, juvenile comedy that I’m sure college frat boy-types will love.

Strike 2 happened about 15 or 20 minutes in when Ice Cube’s undercover unit commander character was introduced. I get it; his exaggerated stereotypes were intentional and not to be at all taken seriously. His character even references the fact that he IS a walking stereotype – loud, gruff, and physical; Standard characteristics of your typical studio movie police chief/commander/whatever. Like said, I got it. But I still didn’t care for any of it. Ice Cube isn’t exactly what I’d call a good actor (in my humble opinion). His caricaturing was supposed to be funny, but I just found it all rather annoying.

It’s tough to isolate when strike 3 happens, because there’s a lot I didn’t like about this flick (more than I actually liked), like comedian DeRay Davis as Domingo, a street tough, bike-riding, tatooed drug dealer; but I’ll settle on all the friggin’ slo-mo shots (I recall at least one with doves flying out of a limo, as our leads exited it, *hot chicks* in tow).

Yeah, it’s that kind of movie; and some (maybe many) will probably have tons of fun watching it, and maybe I’m getting too old for this shit.

Sure, I did laugh a few times, genuinely; a grin or smile here and there as well; but for much of the film’s running time, I was bored, and just wanted it to end.

It's probably best screened with a rowdy crowd; I can see how all that pomp and circumstance could be infectious.

There are cameos, as you already should know, by Holly Robinson-Peete (although if you blinked, you’d miss her in it), as well as Johnny Depp (no surprise that he gets the most significant cameo appearance) and Peter DeLuise. Each cameo was met with cheers from the audience, as you’d expect; I was pleased to see Holly; although I wish she'd have been given a little more to do. She's on screen for literally 5 seconds; compare that to the blaze of glory Depp's character goes out in, after a chunky speech. But this is at the bottom of my list of quarrels with the movie.

I just found it dull and uninteresting; nothing particularly fresh; no risk; no ambition. 

Calling it 21 Jump Street is meaningless here. I understand the marketing opportunities using the name of the original series provides, but, really, there are few similarities between the original TV series and the film. Gone is the police procedural crime drama; instead, meet infantile, shallow, predictable drivel that’ll likely do very well at the box office when it opens this weekend.

Not that the original series was high-brow/must-see television, but I figured any remake of it in the 21st century would at least be far more ambitious than this tired bit of recycling.

Checking RottenTomatoes.com, I’m in the tiny minority here, as 87% of reviews thus far give the film a thumbs up.

Bah-humbug! Just call me Scrooge.

This article is related to: South By Southwest Film Conference and Festival (SXSW)


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