Whatever question there might be about how well a smart horror parody like SXSW opener "Cabin the Woods" will do with mainstream audiences, there is none with updated buddy cop comedy "21 Jump Street" (March 16), which also played well at the Paramount Theater here, and will prove a huge b.o. home run.
Jonah Hill gets to take some credit as producer and co-star of "21 Jump Street," loosely based on the Johnny Depp TV series, in which he's brilliantly paired with Channing Tatum as two bumbling rookie cops sent undercover to expose a high school drug ring. Identified as a funnyman since he broke out in David Gordon Green's "Super Bad" at age 21, Hill is now 28; he slimmed down for this role, and is hitting his stride.
"It's a silly movie but it has a lot of truth to it," said Hill at the Q & A (see video below). "Which is why it's so cool to me. Channing breaks your heart and makes you laugh... This movie would have sucked without him." The filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller ("Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs") came on the project in 2010. They clearly all want to make a sequel.
The Duplass brothers' "Cyrus" was a turning point for Hill that led to Catherine Keener pushing him to director Bennett Miller, who cast him as Brad Pitt's "Moneyball" statistician sidekick, which earned Hill an Oscar nomination. Hill returned to comedy with "21 Jump Street," Green's "The Sitter" and Seth Rogen's upcoming "Neighborhhod Watch" and "Robopocalypse," and he's also partnering with Mark Wahlberg on actioner "Good Time Gang."
Hill raves about Tatum in our interview on his upcoming films below (the full interview is here). "He's so different in this movie, it will change your perception of him," he says. "He never looks bad. He's going to have a fantastic career. He's so funny. It's just shocking. That was the whole intention, pairing me up with someone."