Posts Tagged ‘Jonah Hill

13
Jun
14

Review: 22 Jump Street

They got lucky the last time, now there's a lot of money invested to keep this thing going.

They got lucky the last time, now there’s a lot of money invested to keep this thing going.

When it was announced a couple of years ago that the TV series 21 Jump Street was going to be made into a movie, I’m almost positive that a collective sigh was uttered by just about anyone that knows anything about movies. I mean, we all know we’re living in the age of reboots, remakes, sequels, and franchises; but I don’t think anyone thought that a dated tv show from the 80s starring Johnny Depp would ever be referenced again, let alone be turned into a movie. Yet, in 2012 we were all pleasantly surprised that the new 21 Jump Street was such a breath of fresh air with it’s buddy cop premise and whip smart self referential humor.

Of course this wouldn’t be a true Hollywood moment if 21 Jump Street didn’t get a sequel. I mean, after all, it opened to critical acclaim and grossed a ton of money. Flash forward to today, and we have a sequel to a movie that not only pokes fun at itself and the genre, but it makes fun of Hollywood itself.

Right from the beginning we know that normal tv and movie conventions are going to be made fun of when the film begins with a standard tv open “Last time on 21 Jump Street . . .” and then proceeds to recap for us what happened in the last movie like a regular tv show would. While the recap isn’t so funny in and of itself, it is a signal from the directors that tell us “hey, we know what this sequel is, and we’re going to play with that expectation throughout the film.” From that moment on directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller not just return to some of the same comedic gags that made 21 Jump Street so fun; I almost want to say they turn the genre on its head and go full bore in making 22 Jump Street not just a continuation of the first film, but parody of epic proportions.

Giving it the old college try.

Giving it the old college try.

In an early scene of the film that setups Schmidt and Jenko’s new assignment, Captain Dickson (played by Ice Cube) not just lays out their assignment for them, but it also doubles as a jab at the hollywood studio system. Dickson outright tells Jenko and Schmidt that since they did so well on their first assignment, the department decided to upgrade their division and have Jenko and Schmidt go out for another assignment–in the same exact fashion. Dickson even explicitly states that they have “double the budget” for everything and tells the guys to “do the same exact thing as last time” to catch the drug dealer. If this isn’t making fun of the blueprint that Hollywood likes to follow for sequels these days then I don’t know what is.

Along the way the film takes shots at a lot of police, action, and buddy cop tropes as well. From Michael Bay’s signature ‘plane flying over Miami sign shot’ to a dig at John Woo’s doves, to the constant reference of the fact that this movie is a sequel; Miller and Lord pile on the satire and provide the film with so many high level laughs and references that it becomes to many to count after a while.

Meta jokes aside, on its surface 22 Jump Street does manage to pack in a lot of great humor. Playing on college stereotypes, relationship stereotypes between partners, sports stereotypes, and police stereotypes; a lot of the jokes are smart and funny, though sometimes not all of them land as well as they should.

As mentioned earlier the previous premise for the first film is recycled, though it’s given a good spin with the change of setting. Again though, it’s really the relationship between Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill’s characters that provides a lot of the heart to the film. While we know Hill does comedy so well, again it’s Tatum that provides a lot of unexpected laughs.

Watch out, Jump Street is about to jump up in your crack.

Watch out, Jump Street is about to jump up in your crack.

While the first film looked at their partnership in terms of how much they needed each other, in 22 Jump Street we get to find out what happens when partners are together for too long. Do they rely on each other too much? Do they hold each other back? While Jenko and Schmidt go through similar arcs like they did in the first film, the circumstances this time around are different and provide enough differentiation that the trope of the ‘buddy cop comedy’ doesn’t get tired.

Finally, I’d be remiss if i didn’t talk about the closing credits of the film. There’s nothing spoilerish here, but the end credits basically call out studios for running amok with the sequel treatment for movies. In the same way 21 Jump Street ended with Captain Dickson giving Jenko and Schmidt their next assignment of going to college; this same scene is played out again, but taken to the Nth degree. This time around Captain Dickson continues to give assignment after assignment and each time title treatment is shown for the next sequel. After about 12 sequels were named, I stopped counting and just watched to enjoy the absurdity of creating more sequels. While I don’t think it would be impossible to make a 23 Jump Street, Miller and Lord pretty much set it up so that anyone that does will already be called out for trying to attempt something that is not original at all.

Overall I really enjoyed 22 Jump Street and while I loved all the high level references the film made, I don’t think everyone will get some of the humor that’s in the film. The conceit of rehashing the previous assignment also is a bit of a downer since we are covering familiar territory. However, I still believe 22 Jump Street is a hilarious movie that will make almost anyone laugh. As a follow up to its predecessor, I might even go so far as to say that this is one of those cases where the sequel is better than the original.

Cinematic Scene

“Cinematic Scene” is a new element to reviews. In an effort talk about some of the more technically creative and/or emotionally charged scenes in the film I’ve decided to break off a specific section at the end of each review to discuss these noteworthy scenes. Whether it’s fancy camera work, brilliant use of special effects, or heart wrenching acting; I will pick one notable scene from the film that you should definitely pay attention to.

“Cinematic Scene” is a new element to reviews. In an effort talk about some of the more technically creative and/or emotionally charged scenes in the film I’ve decided to break off a specific section at the end of each review to discuss these noteworthy scenes. Whether it’s fancy camera work, brilliant use of special effects, or heart wrenching acting; I will pick one notable scene from the film that you should definitely pay attention to.

In a really great scene that showcases Channing Tatum’s comedic chops and intersects with the creative minds of the directors, Tatum’s character Jenko is about to come to grips with a major revelation that connects Schmidt and Captain Dickson. While the audience already knows what it is and as Schmidt and Dickson talk about it, Jenko takes a few seconds for all of this to sink in.

When the realization hits of course Jenko’s reaction is priceless. However, keep your ears open otherwise you’ll miss the small ding of a bell going off signaling the exact moment that the everything clicks. It’s such a subtle effect, but it’s really great because it literally puts us into the mind of Jenko. In the few seconds before the bell goes off we get the sense that Jenko hasn’t quite figured things out yet. When the bell goes off it illustrates for us the gears turning in his head and makes the scene a lot more humorous.

22 Jump Street is currently playing in theaters everywhere.

4 out of 5 stars // R // 1hr 52min

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26
Feb
14

Oscar Watch 2014: Actor in a Supporting Role

Oscar Watch looks to break down the different categories for the 2014 Academy Awards. We’ll do our best to give you the inside track for your Oscar pools. Above: Jaret Leto as Rayon from Dallas Buyers Club.

Oscar Watch looks to break down the different categories for the 2014 Academy Awards. We’ll do our best to give you the inside track for your Oscar pools. Above: Jaret Leto as Rayon from Dallas Buyers Club.

Who Should Win: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

From it’s debut at TIFF last fall, Jared Leto’s performance as Rayon is the first thing people talk about when they talk about Dallas Buyers Club. His transformative performance even overshadows McConaughey’s at times. Leto gets to play the entire range with his character; when Rayon is his usual self he’s flamboyant and in your face, but also has emotional moments as well when he relapses into his drug use or in the scene where he goes to see his father. It’s a loud and sometimes showy performance, but that’s the kind of thing that gets supporting actors nominated and an eventual win.

0226_02-TheField

On everyone else . . .

  • Barkhad Abdi: If there was anyone that I thought that could slay Jared Leto, it would be the other captain in Captain PhillipsBarkhad Abdi’s Somali pirate captain Muse. A first time actor, Abdi shows no signs of weakness in scenes where he goes toe to toe with Tom Hanks. He truely was in command of those scenes where his crew first comes aboard the Alabama. There’s just something about his eyes, his mannerisms, and his dogged determination that makes his character that much more threatening. Sadly, The Academy rarely likes to give statues to actors without a proven record so Abdi’s nomination could be his prize.

  • Bradley Cooper: Though Cooper is good, he had a much better performance in last year’s Silver Linings Playbook. There were times in the film where when he went overboard, he REALLY went overboard; and not in a good way for me. Having said that, I think the overall strength of American Hustle is really what landed Cooper his nomination.

  • Michael Fassbender: Nobody does bad like Fassbender. His role as a plantation owner in 12 Years a Slave is one of the main reasons why some people have had difficulty with sitting through the film. His demented, and at times sadistic, character is just the type that audiences love to hate. While the performance is good, I just don’t think it’s as high as the one Leto is giving.

  • Jonah Hill: This is Hill’s second nomination, but like Cooper, I think it’s the weaker of the two (his first nominated and better performance being in Moneyball). We know Hill can do comedy, so while his scene stealing shenanigans in The Wolf of Wall Street are fun, they’re just not doing enough to really push him over the top and really show us more of a range.

Who Will Win: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

0226_03-LetoWinner

While it’s a solid field, Leto has been the clear frontrunner since the fall. Almost everyone has fallen in love with his character with Leto picking up awards in this category from both the LA & NY film critic circles, a Screen Actor’s Guild award, and a Golden Globe. Only an Oscar would complete the list.

What are your thoughts on our predictions? Give us your thoughts on the Best Actor category in the comments.




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