When I first watched the trailer for 21 Jump Street, I was shocked to find myself cracking up. A comedy remake of a cheesy ’80s cop show? This movie has absolutely no right to be hilarious. Nevertheless, something about 21 Jump Street crept into my brain. I watched the trailer repeatedly, showing it to everyone I know, and the verdict was always this same. This shit made us laugh.
Well, I saw a screening of the movie a couple of weeks ago, and it’s safe to say that 21 Jump Street lives up to its ridiculously hilarious trailer. And what’s great about the movie is that it isn’t just funny—it’s sweet. So many comedies these days are mean-spirited, and that’s simply not my bag. 21 Jump Street has the warm heart and belly laughs of an ’80s comedy — and that’s the highest praise I can offer.
But the movie has something else, too: totally kick-ass YA tropes! Sure, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are actually in their mid-twenties, slumming undercover in high school to bust up a drug ring, but that doesn’t exempt them from some tried and true devices present in classic young adult fiction. And let’s face it: these devices are straight up fun.
(No real spoilers here — nothing you can’t glean from the trailer!)
Unattainable Girl/Attainable Girl
When Not So Slim Shady Schmidt was really in high school, he was brutally rebuffed by the hot girl he invited to prom. But now that he’s an undercover brother, he meets the warm and friendly Molly Tracey (the inimitable Brie Larson). She immediately befriends Schmidt and draws him into her group of popular kids. High school’s so much more fun the second time around!
Nerd That Becomes Popular
Oh, Not So Slim Shady. The best and meanest nickname ever. However, in High School Part Two, times have changed. It’s cool to be smart, sensitive and environmentally aware. Schmidt easily cracks into the popular circle while former jock Jenko finds himself relegated to the nerd table. It almost makes me want to go back to high school myself. Almost.
Jenko and Schmidt stay with Schmidt’s parents while they’re undercover, posing as unlikely siblings. But the two buds slowly find themselves bending to rivalry like real brothers due to Schmidt’s newfound popularity and Jenko’s newfound loserdom.
There is a high school production of Peter Pan. That’s really all you should know at this point.
Implausibly Awesome Party
Schmidt and Jenko use their status as real-life adults to buy alarming quantities of alcohol and throw a massive rager, hoping to infiltrate the drug ring. Shit gets out of control with a quickness, and the party is considered suitably epic.
Ohh yes. The culmination of any self-respecting YA book: prom. Like everything, Schimdt and Jenko do it up their own way, pimping fly ass white tuxes, guns and actual doves. Needless to say, it’s a night to remember. I’d go to prom with these two in a heartbeat.
What I love about all of this is that it’s easy to forget that Schmidt and Jenko are adults. These two dudes in their mid-20s undergo all the staples of a fictional high school experience, and they do it with gusto. They care about the prom and the play and the party. They want to nail high school this time around. And they pretty much do.
So fans of YA and hilarity, go see 21 Jump Street. It’s out next Friday and it’s a total blast, trust.