By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist April 21, 2011 at 1:02AM
Considering it's the kind of project that we'd normally run a mile from (namely, a big-budget remake of a 1980s TV show that no one really gives a shit about), we're curiously optimistic about "21 Jump Street." Like the show, which launched the career of Johnny Depp, the movie will focus on a group of fresh-faced cops who go undercover in a high school, but the new version is an R-rated action-comedy take on the material, described as "Bad Boys" meets "John Hughes."
The project might have lost Emma Stone, who was originally intended to take the female lead, but it's a promising line-up otherwise: Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are in the leads, with Hill on co-writing duties with "Scott Pilgrim" scribe Michael Bacall, while Ice Cube, Rob Riggle, Brie Larson and James Franco's little brother Dave round out the cast, and Depp is widely expected to make some kind of cameo. Most excitingly of all, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who were behind the really excellent animated film "Cloudy With Chance of Meatballs," are directing (the principle reason we're expecting something a little better than the average). Now, word's come in that one of our favorite rising comedic actors is also getting involved.
Variety report that Jake Johnson, best known at this point for Nicholas Jasenovec's "Paper Hearts," and for his supporting role in this year's surprise hit "No Strings Attached," has joined the cast in an unknown, but lead role. We've liked Johnson for a while (although he's a bit obnoxious in "No Strings Attached"), but it was his role as Uma Thurman's substance-abusing brother in "Ceremony" that really won us over -- so much so that we named him one of our ten actors on the rise last year.
He's also part of Liz Meriwether's pilot "Chicks and Dicks," opposite Zooey Deschanel and Damon Wayans Jr, which has apparently tested through the roof, and is more or less a dead cert to go to series, so we're going to be seeing much more of Johnson in the near future, and as far as we're concerned, that's a very good thing. With Riggle and Franco playing villains in "21 Jump Street", we'd wager Johnson's on the side of the angels, but he's a versatile enough performer that it could really be either -- we'll find out when it hits theaters on March 16th, 2012.