The idea of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill playing undercover cops infiltrating high school drug culture might sound like a disaster, but “21 Jump Street” manages to make it work.
Tatum and Hill are a jock and a nerd, respectively, who have turned into a police team. They return to high school to find a world where the cool kids are not jocks, but environmentalists. The cliques don’t make sense, but that’s the point: Stereotypes are deconstructed by being turned upside-down.
While “Jump Street” shouldn’t be oversold, it’s a hilarious movie, even if the jokes come at the expense of depth. The challenge of going head-on against buddy cop and high school stereotypes is not really undertaken.
“Jump Street” is just self-aware enough to make its ridiculous concept work. It is crass but smart. If you’re looking for a game-changer, you won’t find it here. But if you believe the job of a comedy is to be funny, then it’s hard to be overly critical.