21 Jump Street

'21 Jump Street' is one unfunny, cliche purple-nurple after another. Photo courtesy Scott Garfield

It’s never going to happen, but the 109 minutes 21 Jump Street forces you to sit through should be charged as police brutality. That’s because the remake, which is supposed to be a satirical parody of the original series, is executed so poorly and with such a lack of effort it might cause you physical pain to stay in the theater until the ending credits.

In case you haven’t caught the synopsis yet, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum play Schmidt and Jenko, a pair of former high school enemies that grow up into two imperfect police academy recruits. They lean on each other through training with Schmidt (Hill) being the smart one and Jenko (Tatum) being the physically gifted one. Through it all, they become best friends – best friends that end up riding bicycles together pursuing litter bugs. And when their first real arrest goes awry, they are relegated to the infamous undercover high school unit at 21 Jump Street where they are quickly assigned the task of hunting down the creator of a new and deadly synthetic drug.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you I didn’t laugh at all, because, after all, it was a comedy and it does get you a few times. But the eye rolling is heavy in between the 1% of jokes that do hit their mark. Rather than a member of the audience you really feel more like one of Jenko’s or Schmidt’s parents – utterly tired of their juvenile shenanigans and wishing they would just grow up already.

21 Jump Street

James Franco's brother, Dave Franco, has a supporting role in the film and, yup, he isn't very funny, either. Photo courtesy Scott Garfield

Through the sorely telegraphed jokes seeps a plot that makes almost no sense as the movie “explores” the culture of modern day high school. I put ‘explores’ in quotes because, more accurately, the film itself is the bully as the characters attend high school the second time around. Taking no prisoners, it assaults one horribly stereotyped high school clique after another with an offensive, almost malicious, undertone that does nothing to help itself and certainly doesn’t bring forth any comedy.

And when the movie isn’t ruining the fictitious lives of hypothetical teenagers, its taking tacky riffs on the action movie genre. And, don’t worry, when the first punchline doesn’t strike home the movie will swing and miss again and again until you stand up in the theater and shout, “Move on already!”

When the first 20 or so minutes of the film turned out to be nothing more than every scene shown in the ubiquitous trailers the distributors released, I had high hopes that this film was going to get all the jokes we already knew about out of the way early. And it does, but the problem is there’s nothing particularly funny thereafter.

Even when the movie tries to get serious (which it does all too often) you don’t buy into it. It’s almost like the writers of this movie tried to show the characters as human only in an effort to make even more fun of them. It’s clear that every actor in this movie mailed it in in terms of their performance, but they aren’t the heart of the problem because this movie was obviously a disaster from the get-go.

So if you saw the trailers and had concerns about this remake, let me be the first to validate your fears. 21 Jump Street isn’t funny. It’s a 1-hour, 49-minute assault on your sense of humor that begs you to steep down to their level. But you shouldn’t and you won’t. I think we have our first nominee for worst film of the year. FINAL GRADE: D

When Bryan isn’t watching movies, he is on Twitter! Follow him @bclienesch!

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