(directors: Phil Lord/Christopher Miller; screenwriters: Michael Bacall/based on a story by Mr. Bacall and Jonah Hill, and the television series created by Patrick Hasburgh and Stephen J. Cannell; cinematographer: Barry Peterson; editor: Joel Negron; music: Mark Mothersbaugh; cast: Jonah Hill (Schmidt), Channing Tatum (Jenko), Brie Larson (Molly Tracey), Dave Franco (Eric Molson), Rob Riggle (Mr. Walters), DeRay Davis (Domingo), Ice Cube (Captain Dickson), Ellie Kemper (Ms. Griggs), Nick Offerman (Deputy Chief Hardy), Jake M. Johnson (Principal Dadier); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Neal H. Moritz/Stephen J. Cannell; Sony Pictures; 2012)

“Strained and crass comedy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A retro gross-out high school action-comedy based on the ’80s TV show that ran for five years and gave Johnny Depp his big break and climb to stardom. Depp honors the pic with a cameo as an undercover cop. Uninteresting co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs”) take a good concept and fail to capitalize on it, as the witless comedy quickly descends into tiresome crude routines, the action sequences are tediously copied from numerous car chase movies, the storytelling part is poorly executed and the bromance becomes grating the more syrupy it becomes. It’s based on a story by Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill.

Dumb muscular jock Jenko (Channing Tatum, age 31) and nerdy loser misfit Schmidt (Jonah Hill, age 28) went to high school together, but were enemies. They are recent Police Academy graduates, where they get a chance to bond and become partners on a bicycle patrol. After bungling a narcotic arrest in the park, the police chief assigns them to work out of an abandoned church at 21 Jump Street. They report to the one-note overbearing foulmouthed tough cop Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) to work undercover as students in a high school, where a new synthetic drug killed a student. They are given new identities as brothers and ordered to live together in the house of Schmidt’s parents. Their job is simply to infiltrate the drug dealers and then go after the supplier, which turns out to be a difficult assignment for these woeful cops who even manage to botch their new identities.

The dealer is the gregarious brainy green-friendly folk singing Eric Molson (Dave Franco, James’ younger brother), who is easy to befriend. But the supplier is more difficult to smoke out, and the dynamic duo have their hands full trying to cope again with high school subjects, gays, a generation gap and coeds while trying to catch the drug ring. Schmidt is attracted to drama queen Molly (Brie Larson), one of the girls who hangs around with Eric and reminds him of the type of girl he yearned for when a student but never could date.

The buddy cop movie will probably appeal to the twenty-something demographic: or those who like potty humor, juvenile yuks, vile comedy that makes base references to genital parts, an ongoing stream of expletives and loud explosions in the action sequences. It’s a movie made by formula, that wants to fuck with an audience who like things that are obvious and require no thinking–like most TV programs. No imagination was exerted in executing this reactionary teen comedy, but the two leads are well-suited for their goofy parts and manage to get a few laughs out of this strained and crass comedy

REVIEWED ON 3/19/2012 GRADE: C      https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/