Went to the movies last night with my youngest son, my oldest son and his wife and my grandson. A pretty packed theater representing a wide array of ages and so-called "races" and styles etc. All, or most, laughing loudly at another raunchy over-the-top comedy.
Sometimes these kinds of flicks work for me and sometimes not. This one mostly did. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum outdo a lot of recent attempts at a cop buddies comedy. Hill is almost always excellent, and in this, with a shared story and producer credit, he seemed to pour all of his comic skill and finesse to create another of his schlubby characters who redeem themselves.
That could have been boring if his partner had been Seth Rogan or one of the other usual suspects, but choosing Channing Tatum to play his nemesis turned buddy was a brilliant bit of casting. Tatum doesn't necessarily have the depth of talent of George Clooney or James Franco or Matt Damon, brilliant movie stars who seem able to play almost any genre role, but Tatum makes up for that in range.
Some of the films I've seen Tatum prove his movie-star-plus-acting-chops bona fides in are STOP-LOSS, a heart wrenching Iraq War consequences drama, THE EAGLE, a toga action flick set in Britain when the Romans thought they "ruled" it, and the first thing my younger son and I caught him in when he, my youngest, was into dancing, was STEP UP where Tatum played a dancer from the streets and made it work so well it's a flick I can stop and watch anytime it's on.
His roles may not be as deep as actors like Clooney and Franco and Damon pull of, though STOP-LOSS came close, but I haven't seen either of them in a musical or dance flick nor pull of a comic slap stick role like Tatum does in 21 JUMP STREET. And the rest of the actors are all terrific. The smallest roles worth catching, from Ice Cube (as the police captain) to Chris Parnell (as the anti-GLEE CLUB drama teacher) or Rob Riggle (as the coach) to newcomer Dax Flame (as the main science geek).
But Ellie Kemper (from THE OFFICE) almost steals the movie as the conflicted science teacher in a performance that seems almost improved on the spot, but the timing is so perfect and her character and lines so incredibly (and believably for me) funny, I'll have to see it again because I laughed so loud I missed half of them.
Ever since I was a kid, one of the great thrills of life has always been the movies, especially going to a theater with a big screen and hopefully a big enough crowd to feel it's a shared communal experience. That's what happened last night. Folks may have gone home and complained about some aspect of 21 JUMP STREET or took issue with the way some stereotype was parodied (though that's hard to justify with a parody[though I add that it was pointed out that the only "perp" the "white" stars actually handcuff is, at least until the close to the end of the flick, "black"]) or whatever (the over-the-top violence is usually my breaking point) BUT, even so, I heard most of them laughing at times as loud as me, and me and my crew went home and threw favorite lines at each other or recapped the action in favorite physical bits, to relive the laughs all over again, which in my book means we just watched a very funny movie.