21 Jump Street [2012]

Directed by: Phil Lord & Chris Miller
Written by: Michael Bacall
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Ellie Kemper, Rob Riggle

21 Jump Street, the funniest film of 2012 so far, is a present-day retelling of that homonymous 80’s TV series, which was more of a serious drama.  This meta action-comedy stars Academy-Award nominee Jonah Hill (sounds weird, huh?) and Channing Tatum, while the original show kick-started Johnny Depp’s career. He makes a cameo here; your appreciation of his work will determine if you enjoy that scene (guess where I stand). 21JS is not entirely consistent and some of its jokes are cheap, but what matters is that it delivers many, many big laughs.

The cast is exceptionally good; Ice Cube is a scene-stealer and Channing Tatum shows impeccable comedic skills. The ludicrous, haphazard climactic scene seems like it was written by a 10-year old (have I said that before?) and nearly spoils what Lord, Miller and Bacall had been successfully building until that point. Thankfully, they knew just how to bring the movie to an ending that, at the same time, brought some closure and left the door open for a sequel. Oh, one last thing: the visual effects suck, but it really doesn’t matter. This is not one of those films.