With Jonah Hill’s involvement in both of the sequels that opened as the No. 1 and 2 highest-grossing titles this past weekend, the actor has earned the right at age 30 to be proclaimed not just one of Hollywood’s most coveted court jesters but also a king of the box office. And he did it the hard way, proving himself yet again to be a genius at playing sidekicks.
In “22 Jump Street,” which claimed the top spot by pulling in $60 million, he and Channing Tatum take their Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis hunk-geek man-love thing (as Tatum’s Jenko says to Hill’s Schmidt, “We don’t have to put a label on it”) to the next level. They continue to milk homoerotic in-jokes and high jinks out of a premise based on a very ‘80s TV undercover cop show (one that Johnny Depp probably wishes he could disown) and turn it into a 21st century buddy comedy sensation on the big screen.
As for the animated “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” which fired up $50 million in ticket sales, Hill once again lends his voice to Snotlout, the obnoxious Viking bully who overestimates his physical abilities at every turn, opposite Jay Baruchel’s new-age Nordic warrior and chief-to-be Hiccup.
Critics were effusive in their praise for Hill’s continued partnership with Tatum in “22 Jump Street,” including admiring Christy Lemire: “Through it all, Hill and Tatum retain a loose, comfortable chemistry, and an energy as they bounce off each other that’s infectious. Hill is the master of the deadpan, self-deprecating one-liner, while Tatum goes big in his buffoonery.”
Signature line: “You know when you hear girls say 'Ah man, I was so (bleep)-faced last night, I shouldn't have (bleep)-ed that guy?' We could be that mistake!” – as Seth, the high-school senior who, along with pal Evan (Michael Cera), hatches a plot to lose their virginity in 2007’s “Superbad.” |
Career peaks: While attending college in New York, L.A. native Hill was befriended by two of Dustin Hoffman’s children. The older actor arranged for Hill to audition for David O. Russell’s 2004 comedy “I Heart Huckabees,” which would become Hill’s film debut. He stood out in supporting roles in a pair of hit comedies directed by Judd Apatow – as a chubby oddball kid who lusts after a pair of hooker-style platform boots on eBay in 2005’s “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and as one of Seth Rogen’s unruly housemates in 2007’s "Knocked Up."
But it was Hill's work in the Apatow-produced “Superbad"--a late-summer sleeper hit also from 2007 that brought in more than $120 million at the box office--that truly supercharged his career. The riotously raunchy booze-soaked comedy centered around his co-dependent relationship with Juno’s low-key Cera that was as hilariously bromantic as anything in the "Jump Street" movies. Declared Scott Foundas in The Village Voice: “At 19 and 23 respectively, Cera and Hill have the fully developed comic timing of seasoned pros—Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in sneakers and cargo shorts.”