Believe it or not, there indeed is an “art” behind the making of a successful mainstream movie. There is a misconception that the only “good” movies are independent “critical darling” movies favored by the Sundance crowd. Yes, successful mainstream movies do exist. I am not denying that. Just let me make my case.
21 Jump Street is a good example of a successful mainstream comedy. It follows the recent Hollywood trend of rebooting the ‘80s. We’ve had remakes The Karate Kid and Footloose just to name a few.
In addition to the predictable reboot vibe, the plot for 21 Jump Street follows a predictably comfortable path. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill play two friends and new police officers that have to go undercover in a high school to bring down a drug ring. Shockingly, they are given this task because they are amazingly incompetent yet broliciously lovable. I’m not going to get into the plot because it is as predictable as you’d imagine and not important in this review.
This brings me to the game-changer. When making a commercial movie, the most important element is the cast. This can make or break the whole film. The leads need to be likeable – and Tatum and Hill accomplish this. I’m offended that the former was never naked in any scene, but I’ll get over that. Where was I? Oh yes. Just as important as the two lead actors is the slew of scene-stealing actor/comedians that play important bit roles in the story. In 21 Jump Street, this includes:
Dave Franco, the smoldering and sexy younger Franco brother who set homosexual hearts a flutter with his Funny or Die video, “You’re So Hot with Chris Mintz-Plasse and Dave Franco.”
Brie Larson, the sarcastic and misunderstood Kate Gregson from United States of Tara.
Ellie Kemper, the scene-stealing Becca from Bridesmaids and The Office.
Rob Riggle, a Daily Show alum and the funny bro in numerous Will Ferrell and bro-esque comedy in recent years.
Chris Parnell, the former SNL star and current featured star of ABC comedy Suburgatory.
Jake M. Johnson, the star on hit FOX comedy New Girl.
Nick Offerman, the dry and hilarious Ron Swanson on NBC comedy Parks & Recreation.
While they play essentially the same characters they always play, I was laughing my ass off. They made me cry from laughing so hard and have bodily functions I would care to not discuss. Got it?
All in all, I walked into 21 Jump Street knowing nothing about the original series and not expecting anything. I walked out of the theater with a pain in my abs and shortness of breath – and not just from seeing Channing. The ending left this open for a sequel and I for one plan to be there for it – the sequel to the remake of the ‘80s TV series. God bless America! (21 Jump Street is in theaters Friday, March 16th)