Friday, 6 April 2012

21 Jump Street review

(DISCLAIMER: This review is breaking from my usual style and will contain minor spoilers. I don't believe any of this will ruin your enjoyment of the film, but read at your own risk if you haven't yet seen it.)

From the get-go, 21 Jump Street had me gripped, and had me in stitches. We begin with a look-back to High School life in 2005 (which already seems so far away, a point the movie makes further into the story) where our future friends Schmidt (Jonah Hill, Superbad) and Jenko (Channing Tatum, Step Up) are enemies in a past life. Whilst being a well-used trope, this is also a real-life situation that anyone can relate to, setting the tone that we should expect more than just "toilet humour" from this comedy - this is not another teen movie.

Now in present time, our lovable losers are the best of friends, helping each other as they struggle their way into a Police career. Recognising their enthusiasm and intrepid ineffectiveness, the duo's Captain informs the pair that they are being transferred to "37 Jump Street... no wait, that doesn't sound right." And so begins our story proper, and the first of many 'smart' jokes.

Schmidt and Jenko head on over to Jump Street to meet their new boss, Captain Dickson (Ice Cube, Friday), a vibrant embodiment of every beloved, cliched and angry fictional Police Captain in history. His mission for our heroes is to infiltrate a High School drug dealing ring, find the supplier and to not have sex with anyone.

What follows is a cinematic tour de force of cliches and truly brilliant comedy. Featuring the funniest representation of drug use since Corky Romano, and an eco-warrior drug dealer (played brilliantly by Dave Franco. His grounded portrayol makes for the most memorable drug dealer since his brother James' turn in Pineapple Express), 21 Jump Street is a great movie, but not one that will re-shape the landscape.
This movie is the perfect cinema fare. The jokes are invariably hilarious, and display a level of maturity often missing in this genre, but they also rely too heavily on catching the audience by surprise. While the directors have made an admirable effort to not date the movie, I fear the jokes will simply lose their bite upon repeat viewing and wonder, will this movie be remembered in 10 years' time?

I fear not, however, while this film is in the cinema I implore you to experience it in that environment. Seeing the film with a room full of friends will surely be a great experience, but nothing compares to laughing along as loud and hard as you can in a room full of strangers. That is the greatest mark of approval I can give to a comedy film - that it made me laugh as loud and goofily as I did without caring who heard.

A solid slice of High School life as viewed by men still in the process of growing up, this movie should strike a chord with anyone who feels life is sometimes moving too fast. Take a moment to look back, to laugh at history, and to remember sometimes, things don't explode.

Random Thoughts:
 - Why was "The Real Slim Shady" so heavily editted, yet "Straight Out Of Compton" played completely uneditted. Was it due to Ice Cube being in the flick?
 - 21 Jump Street pulled off the whole 'passing the torch' scene a lot funnier (and cheesier) than fellow remake/extension Starsky & Hutch.
 - Dave Franco looks almost identical to James. At times, it's hard to believe they didn't just layer James in make-up to give the illussion of youth. This is a good thing - James is a fantastic actor, and that Dave managed to make me believe I was watching the elder sibling spells good things for his future career.
 - I was pleased with the inevitable time skip to present day. One of my pet peeves is movies that overtly date themselves - featuring the year anywhere is a huge "No No" in my book. While 21 Jump Street does state "2005" for it's flashback scene, the switch to present day is a simple "Seven Years Later" card. Yes, that means we are in 2012, but the movie doesn't directly date itself, meaning it has a chance at standing the test of time (that "Glee" joke, however, does not).

Thursday, 5 April 2012

The Muppets review

WORTH SEEING? - Absolutely. This is one of my favourite films of the past couple of years. Everything meshed perfectly - cast, comedy, story.

TELL ME MORE! - Walter is a Muppet who is the world's biggest Muppets fan, and his brother Gary is a human who is the world's biggest Walter fan. When Gary, Walter and Gary's girlfriend Mary go on holiday and visit the Muppet Studios, Walter finds the place in a rundown state, complete with a villian plotting an evil plan to destroy the land and dig for oil. The trio must unite the Muppets to put on one last show and raise $10 million, put aside personal issues and use the power of song and dance to save the studio!

THE CAST - Jason Segal (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and Amy Adams (Enchanted) put their vocal talents to great use in this musical comedy. Thanks to Segal's child-like demeanour and Adams' recent star turn in arguably Disney's finest live-action film, it was incredibly easy to believe in their characters and the universe (although it is never explained why Gary is a human and Walter is a Muppet). Hamming it up are Chris Cooper (The Bourne Identity) and Jack Black (Orange County) as the main villian and comedy roles respectively. Closing out the main human cast is Rashida Jones (I Love You Man, another Segal ace) who aptly holds her own in a role straddling the line between hero and villian.

Supporting this lot are some incredible cameos, entertaining both the young (Selena Gomez) and the old (Zach Galifianakis). My personal favourite was The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons, potraying the human version of Walter in my favourite song from the film, Man Or Muppet. (Interesting side-note - Bret McKenzie (Flight Of The Conchords) won an Academy Award for this song.)

IN SUMMATION - More than just a musical comedy, The Muppets is grounded by various personal issues each character must face and overcome - jealousy, seclusion, heartache and the like. Recognising that their audience would be a mixture of young kids and nostalgic adults, the writers have keenly included enough jokes and drama to keep the parents entertained while the usual Muppet madness and music will have the children enthralled also. An all-around hit, and one I feel will hold up with repeated viewings throughout the years.