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21 Jump Street: Jonah Hill, fresh off his Oscar nominated work in Moneyball and his rightly ignored work in The Sitter stars with attractive block of wood Channing Tatum in this jokey remake of the quintessentially ‘80s series of the same name. The premise of ostensibly young looking policemen who are sent into a high school to ferret out a drug ring is one that is rife with comic possibility i.e., Tatum and Hill aren’t particularly young looking, will abuse the opportunity to relive their adolescences with the advantage of having their fully formed adult identities and easy alcohol and narcotics etc. Frankly, everything about this film feels a bit to formulaic, from casting Rob Riggle as an overly intense P.E. coach to drafting Ice Cube as the sassy black police captain. You know this film will have a bit in it where Hill hilariously overdoses to prove how badass he is to the cool kids and you know there’s going to be a morally suspect romance between Tatum and some high school teacher. This overwhelming sense of obviousness may be battered back by whatever bits of business Hill and company come up with but since Hill hasn’t proven that there’s anything to his persona beyond comedic frustration it’s doubtful. Also starring Brie Larson, Ellie Kemper and Nick Offerman.
Fun Fact: Original Jump Street stars Peter DeLuise, Holly Robinson Peete and Johnny Depp make cameo appearances in the film.
Casa de mi Padre: Will Farrell stars as a Mexican rancher who bumbles his way into a conflict with one of the country’s most vicious drug lords. In typical audience challenging Farrell fashion, most of the film’s dialogue is in English subtitled Spanish. Farrell is probably Hollywood’s most interesting comedic actor in that he commits totally to his work. Eddie Murphy and Adam Sandler cash big pay check by playing themselves as trapped in various high concepts (“fast talking agent will get closer to death with every word he speaks”, “a loser who knocked up one of his high school teachers has to reconcile with his adult son or face going to prison for tax evasion”) but Farrell plies his trade by embodying wildly outsized versions of the White American man. His Ron Burgundy was the epitome of the ‘70s alpha male coming to grips emerging feminism. His Ricky Bobby was the proud NASCAR dad wrestling with his feelings about homosexuality and multiculturalism. And his Allen Gamble was the modern white intellectual coming to terms with his ugly masculine id in the face of economic apocalypse. This is not to say Farrell is a gifted actor but he isn’t a lazy one. There is no default persona for Farrell, not even his oft utilized combination of incoherent, impotent rage (his George W. Bush was never angry just wrongly confident). In ambition and dedication, if not talent, he is our Peter Sellers. Also starring Nick Offerman, Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna.
Fun Fact: Is exploitation of the telenovela form in the context of parody racist if its lead actor is White? I’d say this falls under the Goulet exemption.
Mario blogs regularly at A Polemic Killer Room.