Movie Reviews. From the Hip.


"What should we see this weekend?"

"Will that be any good?"

"What would DORIEN SAY?"

... Here's what DORIEN SEZ.

Welcome to the premiere movie reviewer that JUDGES FILMS BEFORE THEY COME OUT! Armed only with a few previews and a crack-shot snap judgment, I bring you the most succinct, accurate, and cocksure film reviews this side of the River Wild... which sucked!


Thursday, February 2, 2012

21 JUMP STREET (March 16th)

I'm not a praying man, but someone needs to convince the Lord to put the kibosh on frivolous, pansy remakes like 21 Jump Street.  There is no justification for this one.  The TV show was neither beloved, nor classic, nor good.  It was not an interesting story that could use an updated retelling.  A brand is alls it is, a mostly forgotten bit of pop culture whose name recognition survives -- and some Hollywood dickfingers saw two golden words and decided to cash in: remake and 80's.  Both are very big right now, and we've seen them combine for some real shitty cinema (The A-Team, Conan the Barbarian, Clash of the Titans).  You can add 21 Jump Street to that pile, and while you're there, vandalize and burn it as well.  It's a buddy cop movie by the numbers, and a lot of humorless nonsense.  If this is what passes for buddy action-comedy these days, color me red... with self-inflicted wounds!

There are two rookie cops.  They are friends, but they enjoy to break the balls of one another.  They are also humorously mismatched, Channing Tate-them being a muscle-bound oaf, and Jonah Hill a bookworm weakman.  Amazingly, despite their inexperience, gross incompetence, and flagrant ignorance of police procedure, they are selected for an undercover assignment in a high school, posing as students to bust an illegal drug operation.  Let the comedic mayhem begin!  To be fair, there are some laughs to be had in 21 JS.  Jonah Hill has his moments, and even the Big Guy delivers some well-placed humor punches.  Ice Cube is charming and foul-mouthed in the supporting cast, and Rob Riggle is once again funnier than the material he's been given.  But for the most part, the predictable "jokes" are of the potty, dick, or drug variety, mixed in with the occasional punch, crash, or other funny violence.  There's nothing wrong with a bit of low-brow humor, but it should needs actually be funny.  When it's done this badly, I'd prefer to have no brows at all.

Things really take a wrong turn in the third act of this film, when the "plot" takes over, and we're subjected to odd moments of stylized action: diving gunfire, explosions, slow-mo tracking shots of the guys strutting toward camera as white doves flutter by.  Are these scenes meant to parody action films?  To be funny for their shear absurdity?  No, actually -- they're intended to be awesome.  Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller have made the bush league mistake of trying to infuse a little bit of sleek Hollywood sweetness into a ridiculous, adolescent comedy.  Like The Longest Yard and Starsky and Hutch before it, 21 Jump Street gets a bit genre-curious: aware that it's a remake, it references and pokes fun at the original (including a Johnny Depp cameo), yet has moments when you'd swear it was taking itself seriously.  Screenwriter Michael Bacall's previous work, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, sucked for similar reasons.  If kitsch and goofiness are your film's selling points, don't try to sneak "cool" into the formula too.  It won't work, and it always makes me boo.

Despite its likable stars and occasional burp of comedy, this film is formulaic, bland, and easily forgotten.  Sometimes it seems like there are just too many movies.  When someone inquires, "Doesn't 21 Jump Street suck?" you should not have to ask which one.

Dorien Sez: C-
Watch the Trailer:

No comments: