THE CABIN IN THE WOODS

Don’t Play By The Rules

Director
Drew Goddard

Starring
Kristen Connolly
Chris Hemsworth
Anna Hutchison
Jesse Williams
Fran Kranz
Bradley Whitford
Richard Jenkins



Analysing the specificities of this release is going to be exceptionally tricky, largely because this is a very intelligent release masquerading as a simple teen-slasher flick. To really discuss the intricacies of its brilliance, I am going to have to completely spoil and reveal the entire plot. So, consider this fair warning: this entire review is going to be littered with spoilers and plot details that will ruin the film for you, if you have yet to see it. So wait until release, watch the film, enjoy the hell out of it and then come back here and read through this review. Alternatively, just skip to the last paragraph for my summative comment. Clear? Good.

Before diving into the plot, we’re treated to a short, simple back-and-forth between two technicians working in a laboratory complex: Steve Hadley [Jenkins] and Richard Sitterson [Whitford]. Very few details are explained, bar the severity of their work and how important it is that everything goes ahead as planned. From there we’re introduced to five ‘typical’ college students – or at least, they appear to be. Dana [Connolly] is the chaste, naïve element of the group, Jules [Hutchison] is her ditzy blonde best friend, Curt [Hemsworth] is Jules’ football hurling boyfriend, Marty [Kranz] is the conspiracy theory spouting stoner and Holden [Williams] is the slightly scholarly jock with a heart of gold. Only they’re not.. not at all. In reality, Dana is getting over a relationship with her teacher, Jules has recently dyed her hair but isn’t overly promiscuous, Curt is a deviously intelligent Sociology major, Marty is surprisingly on-the-ball and Holden.. ok, Holden’s about right. In atypical genre fashion, the five friends set out into the middle of nowhere, to spend the week at Curt’s cousin’s cabin. Everything starts very paint-by-numbers, with the creepy attendant at the lone gas station, the isolated rocky mountain pass and the eerily decorated cabin in the middle of nowhere. The big plot device is that all of this is planned and orchestrated. Everything that follows, the kids in the woods, the debauchery, the alcohol, the sex and all the other cliché elements of horror films are actually part of an ancient ritual sacrifice. Sitterson explains that everything is based on choice, in order for the rite to go ahead, the kids have to elect to ignore the signs and enter the creepy cellar, choosing their own grisly fate. Even the order they die in is incredibly specific; all of which abates the old evil gods entombed beneath the earth. I felt so dirty writing that.. like I’ve spoiled the end of The Sixth Sense or something.

The writing is key to this film’s genius. Littered with tell-tale traits throughout, the whole thing is despicably Whedon – an immense compliment in my opinion. The kids themselves are realistic, intelligent and relatable, the dialogue is fresh and crisp, the switch between horror and comedy is sublime and the grey area is so thick and expansive that the debates between audience members alone will no doubt spawn an immense cult following. The plot is sickeningly clever, mixing satire, mythology, humour and stock character archetypes to produce an engrossing story that uniquely plays on the audience’s expectations and genre prejudices. Director, Drew Goddard is one of the Whedon graduates and his influence is evident from start to finish. Other than the writing, the glorious pacing is perfect, building carefully before exploding with a balls-to-the-wall blowout finale. Having worked on several Whedon projects in the past, Goddard has been exposed to a goldmine of acting talent, whilst still retaining the ability to find and utilise unknowns. If I’m honest, the entire production has wall-to-wall pitch-perfect casting, with several familiar faces popping up. Of the five leads, everyone does a stellar job, playing up audience expectations and surprising us at the same time but the real highlight of the film is the goings-on ‘behind the curtain’. Everyone working for the unnamed sacrificial corporation sells the industry as any other job, despite the blatant absurdity of its nature; none more so than Jenkins and Whitford – always nice to see these two getting work.

The violence is horrific, the laughs are genuine, the tension is ever-present and the story is gripping, so almost every review will undoubtedly have a hard time not referencing the Evil Dead films but I actually think this film is significantly better. There’s no room for a sequel, the narrative structure is clear and the production value is astonishing. Ultimately, this is probably the most enjoyable movie of the year thus far and certainly one of the most pleasantly surprising. If you’re a fan of black humour or the horror genre, you owe it to yourself to watch this film.. multiple times.. and then introduce it to everyone you know.


Release Date:
13th April 2012

The Scene To Look Out For:
Unicorn spearing a guard against a wall. That’s all I’m saying.

Notable Characters:
As brilliant as everyone was, I’m a bit of a Bradley Whitford fan (ever since The West Wing.. hell, maybe even Billy Madison) and seeing him on-screen is a delight. Furthermore his character was hilarious, informative and absolutely on-key for this kind of production/role. No one put a foot wrong, it’s a stellar cast, what else can I say?

Highlighted Quote:
“Who the fuck can’t kill nine year olds!? Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!”

In A Few Words:
“Simultaneously the most funny, clever and scary film of its kind since Evil Dead 2. Refreshingly exceptional”

Total Score:

5/5

Cinema City Film Quiz #68

[25 March 2012]


Winning Team:
True Or False: During The Final Change Scene In Vice Versa Where Both Characters Are Only Wearing Pants, The Actors Couldn’t Stop Laughing So There Was A Cut Between Each Line

Genre – Fiction or Non-Fiction

Runners Up:
The Very Hungry Centipede
Genre – A battle royale between deviant sexual scientists
Carry On Quizzing
Genre – The alleged 32nd entry in the comedy pantheon
The Fungus Games
Genre – Teenagers fight to survive a deadly fungus/verucca
Fairly Normal Activity
Genre – Documentary of an average household
The Younger Games
Genre – Family comedy: 24 kids, 1 arena, Gary Glitter
The Tragic History Of Alan Smithee
Genre – Historical sci-fi zombie documentary
Spoon Runner
Genre – Coming of age movie of young athlete bringing the Egg & Spoon Race to the Olympics


ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. What is the name of the lead archaeologist in the Indiana Jones series?
INDIANA JONES [bonus point for Henry Jones Jnr]
2. What type of creature does Scott Howard become in Teen Wolf?
WEREWOLF / WOLF / TEEN WOLF?
3. What are the names of Dorothy’s three companions in The Wizard Of Oz? (one point per correct answer)
SCARECROW / TIN MAN / COWARDLY LION
4. What is the title of the sequel to Batman Begins?
THE DARK KNIGHT
5. The Babe is based on which historic baseball figure? [bonus point for naming the lead actor]
BABE RUTH [John Goodman]
6. Who portrayed Eddie Felson in The Hustler and The Colour Of Money?
PAUL NEWMAN
7. What are the first names of the four Ghostbusters in the film of the same name? (one point per correct answer)
RAY / EGON / PETER / WINSTON
8. What remake did Peter Jackson direct after The Lord Of The Rings?
KING KONG
9. The Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup was released in what year?
1933
10. What type of crop field does Ray Kinsella build his baseball field on, in Field Of Dreams?
CORN

ROUND II: Filming [True Or False Special]
1. Shooting for Jurassic Park III began before the script was finished. True or False?
TRUE
2. Unable to figure out how to trick the blind flower girl that the tramp was wealthy (in City Lights), Charlie Chaplin ordered the same scene shot 342 times. True or False?
TRUE
3. Vincent Price’s last on-screen appearance before he died was a death scene. True or False?
TRUE
4. After Vertigo flopped in cinemas, Hitchcock blamed long-time collaborator James Stewart for looking too old and never worked with him again. True or False?
TRUE
5. In the final scene in Scarface, Al Pacino grabbed the M16/M203 rifle by the barrel. Although he was only firing blanks, he badly burned his hand and filming was suspended for weeks. True or False?
TRUE
6. The line “I’ll be back” from The Terminator was actually scripted as “I’ll come back”. True or False?
TRUE
7. The alien language (clicking sound) in District 9 was a recording of a pumpkin being rubbed. True or False?
TRUE
8. Originally, Mervyn LeRoy wanted to use MGM’s mascot Leo The Lion as the cowardly lion in The Wizard Of Oz with dubbed lines. True or False?
TRUE
9. For the scenes set at sea, during Ben Hurr, a dye was developed to alter the colour of the water. This led to an extra who was left in the water too long turning blue. True or False?
TRUE (he was kept on MGM’s payroll until it wore off)
10. When working on The Jungle Book Walt Disney told the writers to ignore Rudyard Kipling’s book, starting with the pronunciation of Mowgli. True or False?
TRUE (According to Rudyard Kipling’s daughter, it should be Mao-gli, not Moh-gli)

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. What is the first line from 1992’s Aladdin (also the opening line from the song Arabian Nights)? (one point if close, two if exactly right)
OH, I COME FROM A LAND, FROM A FAR AWAY PLACE, WHERE THE CARAVAN CAMELS ROAM
2. The Monty Python crew play various roles in The Holy Grail. Which one portrays the most? [bonus point for stating how many roles]
MICHAEL PALIN [12]
3. What was the first colour film to win the Oscar for best picture?
GONE WITH THE WIND
4. Despite the fact the name of the film is Three Kings, there are four men in the group. Who played them? (one point per correct answer)
GEORGE CLOONEY / ICE CUBE / MARK WAHLBERG / SPIKE JONZE
5. Who played Charlie McGee, the nine year old title character in 1984’s Firestarter?
DREW BARRYMORE
6. Excluding the upcoming Cloud Atlas, how many films have the Wachowski’s [Andy and Lana] directed?
FIVE (Bound / The Matrix / The Matrix Reloaded / The Matrix Revolutions / Speed Racer)
7. Which British comedy duo starred in The Intelligence Men, That Riviera Touch, The Magnificent Two and Night Train To Murder?
MORECAMBE AND WISE
8. What two words does Mr. Miyagi say when Daniel catches a fly with a pair of chopsticks, in The Karate Kid?
BEGINNERS LUCK
9. In Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, the title characters challenge Death to several games, four of which we see. Name them. (one point per correct answer)
BATTLESHIP / CLUEDO / ELECTRIC FOOTBALL / TWISTER
10. What were the titles of the first, twenty fifth and fiftieth animated Disney classic? (one point per correct answer)
SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS / THE BLACK CAULDRON / TANGLED (1938 / 1985 / 2010)

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. What is the name of the elusive hacker in Ghost In The Shell? The Puppet Master? The Laughing Man? The Individual Eleven?
THE PUPPET MASTER
2. In which film did God appear to the main character and say, “It’s a pity you didn’t sign The Smiths but you were right about Mick Hucknell – his music’s rubbish and he’s a ginger”? That Thing You Do? 24 Hour Party People? Double Platinum?
24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE
3. Which of the following was not directed by the Coen brothers? The Ladykillers? The Man Who Wasn’t There? Welcome To Colinwood?
WELCOME TO COLINWOOD
4. What are the name of the police force that terminate ‘runners’ in Logan’s Run? Agents? Enforcers? Sandmen?
SANDMEN
5. Which of the following films did Ted Kotcheff not direct? First Blood? Weekend At Bernie’s? The NeverEnding Story?
THE NEVERENDING STORY
6. How many feature films has Martin Scorsese directed to date? 18? 22? 26?
TWENTY TWO
7. In his alliterative introduction, how many words beginning with V does V use, in V For Vendetta (excl. his name)? 22? 35? 47?
FORTY SEVEN
8. What is the name of the conjoined twin character in Jeunet’s The City Of Lost Children? The octopus? The spider? The snake?
THE OCTOPUS
9. What did Cameron Crowe direct after Jerry Maguire? Vanilla Sky? Almost Famous? Elizabethtown?
ALMOST FAMOUS
10. A large portion of the budget for The Dam Busters was devoted to drawing over each frame that featured cockpit glass and goggles, to add the necessary reflection. True or False?
FALSE

THE HUNGER GAMES

The World Will Be Watching

Director
Gary Ross

Starring
Jennifer Lawrence
Josh Hutcherson
Wes Bentley
Woody Harrelson
Stanley Tucci



Since the success of Harry Potter, producers have been trawling teen fiction for the next big franchise. Frustratingly, they tend to chop and change the core things that make their chosen series a success and their franchise falters after the first film: The Golden Compass, Percy Jackson, The Seeker etc. However, when well written fiction is adapted faithfully and filmed with consideration for the source material, you can produce something of immense power and value – refreshingly, The Hunger Games is one of those adaptations.

The Hunger Games is set in the futuristic nation of Penam. This kingdom is divided into thirteen core regions, inhabited by the wealthy, upper-class, privileged elite of the Capital and the poor denizens of the twelve outlying Districts. For the last seventy four years, the citizens of the Districts have been required to offer up a male and female candidate between the ages of 12 and 18, to fight to the death for the amusement and financial gain of those in the Capital; this annual contest is called The Hunger Games. As the plot progresses, we discover that this entire operation is merely a socio-political tactic to keep the working class Districts in line, through fear and obedience. The central characters are Katniss Everdeen [Lawrence] and Peeta Mellark [Hutcherson], who are chosen (technically Katniss volunteered to spare her twelve year old sister) to represent District 12 by training then competing against 22 other young adults – of course, there can be only one victor.

The plot presents brilliant political satire and an anthropological exploration of interactions in adolescent society, combining the best elements of Battle Royale and Lord Of The Flies but (from what I’ve been told by those who’ve read the novels) evolves to become something far greater. The visual effects, production design and costumes are breath-taking, from the poverty-stricken District dwellers to the delightfully eccentric Capital populace, every detail is exquisite. As with every decent work of science fiction, you can’t help but feel you want to know more or see more of the other Districts or life in the Capital. Obviously, the plot perspective is focused on Katniss, so although elements may feel underdeveloped, it’s quite apparent that the screenwriters have simply tried to retain as much as possible from the books without compromising the narrative. If anything, wanting to know more about a fictional universe is a positive and compliment to author, Suzanne Collins.

To my mind, the film was littered with impressive performances all round. You could argue that the supporting characters aren’t fully explored but as stated earlier, this is Katniss’ story, told from her perspective and to pad the script with unnecessary exposition and banter, just to please the fans, would have crippled the pacing and flow. Curiously, casting priority is divided between the twisted individuals from the Capital and the youngsters participating in the game itself – by that I simply mean that screen time is heavily biased toward the adults, with less exploration into the mindsets and inner-workings of the young competitors. Those explored can be split into three distinct categories, the first being President Snow [Donald Sutherland] and Seneca Crane [Bentley], the game designer; both men give wonderfully subtle performances, providing a pleasant juxtaposition between someone who wants to produce an entertaining spectacle and one who truly understands its necessity. The second group are the commentators and the faces of The Hunger Games, Caesar Flickerman [Tucci] and Claudius Templesmith [Toby Jones], who provide a great deal of expositive insight while embodying these memorable characters. Finally, we have the three key mentors of the District 12 representatives, the vilely over-the-top Effie Trinket [Banks], the drunken previous victor, Haymitch Abernathy [Harrelson] and the stylist, Cinna [Lenny Kravitz]. Harrelson is wonderfully entertaining, combining a wealth of charm layered beneath his roguish exterior and Banks and Kravitz are both simply unrecognisable – Banks because of the lavish make-up and costume design, Kravitz for the fact that he’s actually provided a stand-up performance. It would have been nice to see more of the development of the other Tributes but there simply isn’t enough time in a theatrical release.

In trying to keep this film within the boundaries of a 12a/PG-13 release, this film has been keenly directed and edited, pushing the envelope of violence and brutal terror in what could be described as a teen film, without resorting to unnecessary gore or dumbed-down nonsense. If anything, the true nature of violence is presented without glamorisation or cinematic exaggeration. No doubt, the nature of the film will cause a bit of a stir and controversy toward the usual complaining parents, who condemn a release before watching or even fully researching it but that can’t be helped. Then you’ve also got to worry about the loyal fans of the source material, no one is harder to please than them and they will probably be the film’s greatest supporters and its harshest critics.

If the series continues to match this opening instalment’s positive debut, we can hope for a thoroughly enjoyable and wholly successful franchise. Personally, I think the universe we’ve glimpsed is strong enough to draw crowds and appeal to a wide demographic of cinemagoers and see no reason to expect anything less than excellence from the coming sequels.


Release Date:
23rd March 2012

The Scene To Look Out For:
Amidst all the realism, tension, action and drama, I found myself enjoying the brief interviews with the games’ contestants, as hosted by Caesar Flickerman. Stanley Tucci has an incredible presence in everything he’s in, so it’s nice to see him succeeding so thoroughly. The interviews start off as little more than a montage but they’re the first opportunity to really explore the two leads and witness how they’re sucked in by the glitz and glamour before the main ordeal. All of which is elevated by the commendable score by James Newton Howard and T-Bone Burnett.

Notable Characters:
After seeing Winter’s Bone, it became immediately apparent that Jennifer Lawrence is an incredibly gifted actress, able to hold scenes with grace and ease but still able to channel deep emotional resonance when required. With her presence in X-Men: First Class and a bright career ahead of her, we can expect to see great things.

Highlighted Quote:
“Face the probability of your imminent death and know that there’s absolutely nothing I can do to help you”

In A Few Words:
“Films of this nature are usually a thundering disappointment but The Hunger Games is a decently adapted poignant flick that entertains, thrills and excites from start to finish”

Total Score:

4/5

Cinema City Film Quiz #67

[11 March 2012]


Winning Team:
The Team Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest And Ran Away

Genre – Swedish thriller

Runners Up:
The Bungle Games
Genre – Dystopian nightmare in which a tyrannical Geoffrey Hayes make poor George & Zippy fight for their lives!
The Girl With Not Quite So Much Acting Talent As The Other One
Genre – A Harrowing hollywood rehash
Late Afternoon In Norwich
Genre – Romantic Comedy
Let The Right Wing One In
Genre – A small boy befriends Michael Gove and horror ensues
L’Original Etait Mieux (The Original Was Better)
Genre – New wave musical horror
Logan’s Amble
Genre – Science fiction
We Bought A Kazoo
Genre – Matt Damon goes on a musical adventure of self discovery
As Yet Untitled Project
Genre – Unspecified


ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. What is the name of the ghost played by Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice? (2 bonus points for correct spelling)
BETELGEUSE
2. What was the name of the British spy played by Sean Connery, Timothy Dalton, Daniel Craig and others?
JAMES BOND
3. What was the name of Dorothy’s dog in The Wizard Of Oz?
TOTO
4. Who plays Sister Mary Clarence in Sister Act? [bonus point for the character’s actual name]
WHOOPI GOLDBERG [Deloris Van Cartier]
5. According to the infamous quote from Braveheart, William Wallace says, “They can take our lives but they’ll never take our..” what?
FREEDOM
6. What is the name of Jeff Bridges’ character in The Big Lebowski?
DUDE (1 point) / JEFFREY LEBOWSKI (2 points)
7. How many films are in the Lethal Weapon franchise?
FOUR
8. In what year was The Karate Kid released?
1984
9. Pan’s Labyrinth is set in which country?
SPAIN
10. Which leg does Dietrichson break in Double Indemnity?
LEFT

ROUND II: Filming [Remakes Of Foreign Language Films Special]
1. Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia is a remake of which Norwegian film? Crazy Days, Restless Nights? Insomnia? Can’t Get No Sleep?
INSOMNIA
2. In Scent Of A Woman, Al Pacino’s character is deprived of which sense? Sight? Hearing? Smell?
SIGHT
3. Which cast member of Vanilla Sky featured in the original, Abre Los Ojos? Tom Cruise? Cameron Diaz? Penelope Cruz? [bonus point for translating the original title]
PENELOPE CRUZ [Open Your Eyes]
4. The Magnificent Seven is based on Seven Samurai which was made by which Japanese director? Yasujiro Ozu? Akira Kurosawa? Koji Wakamatsu?
AKIRA KUROSAWA
5. Let Me In is set in which year? 1980? 1981? 1983?
1983
6. In Ringu the dead girl that haunts the video tape is named Sadako, what is her name in the Gore Verbinski adaptation? Samantha? Samira? Samara?
SAMARA
7. M, the 1931 classic German film starring Peter Lorre was remade in America how many years later? 20? 30? 40?
TWENTY
8. The original Three Men And A Baby was filmed in which country? Spain? Germany? France?
FRANCE (Trois Hommes Et Un Couffin)
9. A Fistful Of Dollars is a remake of which Japanese film? Kagemusha? Yojimbo? Ikiru?
YOJIMBO
10. At one point, Tim Roth, Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi and Michael Madsen were all set to star in The Departed before scheduling conflicts meant they had to pull out. True or False?
FALSE

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. To date David Fincher has directed nine feature-length films. Name them. (one point per correct answer)
ALIEN 3 / SEVEN / THE GAME / FIGHT CLUB / PANIC ROOM / ZODIAC / THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON / THE SOCIAL NETWORK / THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO
2. Sunset Boulevard opens with screenwriter Joe Gills narrating about his death. Where is the body discovered?
FLOATING IN THE SWIMMING POOL
3. What did Barry Sonnenfeld direct in between Get Shorty and Wild Wild West?
MEN IN BLACK
4. What do Garry and Wyatt name their female creation, in Weird Science?
LISA
5. What year was Lady And The Tramp released?
1955
6. Charlie Allnut and Rose Sayer are the lead characters in which 1952 John Huston film?
THE AFRICAN QUEEN
7. David Lynch’s Eraserhead was filmed on-and-off over how many years?
FIVE
8. The following is a quote from which film, “Greed in all its forms: greed for life, for money, for love, for knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind”?
WALL STREET
9. The susuwatari (Soot Sprites) appear in which two Hayao Miyazaki films? (one point per correct answer)
MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO / SPIRITED AWAY
10. How many men are in Dutch’s unit in Predator? (including Dutch, excluding Dillon and Anna Gonsalves)
SIX (Dutch / Mac / Blain / Poncho / Hawkins / Billy)

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Who played the title role in 1968’s The Boston Strangler? Tony Curtis? Kirk Douglas? Donald Pleasance?
TONY CURTIS
2. What is the last city to be destroyed by asteroids in Armageddon? New York? Paris? Helsinki?
PARIS
3. The Lost Weekend primarily deals with what affliction? Sex Addiction? Gambling? Alcoholism?
ALCOHOLISM
4. Who directed The Searchers? John Ford? Howard Hawks? John Huston?
JOHN FORD
5. In Reservoir Dogs, when describing Joe Cabot to his partner, Mr. Orange references which comic book series? The Incredible Hulk? Fantastic Four? X-Men?
FANTASTIC FOUR (specifically Ben ‘The Thing’ Grimm)
6. Which of the following gangs did not appear in The Warriors? The Hurricanes? The Moonrunners? The Blazers?
THE BLAZERS
7. What is the name of Maria’s robot double (and Rotwang’s dead wife) in Metropolis? Bel? Hel? Zel?
HEL
8. Which actor starred in Cinderella Man, Planet Of The Apes (2001) and Saving Private Ryan? Paul Giamatti? Michael Clarke Duncan? Barry Pepper?
PAUL GIAMATTI
9. The Secret Of Kells is set in which century? Fifth? Seventh? Eighth?
EIGHTH
10. Helen Mirren doubled as a dialect coach for the majority of the Irish cast members in John Boorman’s Excalibur. True or False?
FALSE

21 JUMP STREET

They’re Too Old For This Shift

Director
Phil Lord
Chris Miller

Starring
Channing Tatum
Jonah Hill
Brie Larson
Dave Franco
Ice Cube



To say this film is based on the late 80’s TV series of the same name would be a little misleading. Granted, the premise is the same but the genre and execution could not be further from the original. I shouldn’t think this will really prompt a massive fan outcry, largely because no one was really petitioning for a 21 Jump Street reboot, but it should still be noted that the two are monumentally different. If anything, this new version takes the original, shoots it through the throat and shouts, “Fuck you, we’re doing it our way!” while tea-bagging the corpse.

Through an incredibly rushed first five minutes, we are introduced to high school students, Schmidt [Hill] and Jenko [Tatum], both of whom suffer their own personal trauma and scarring thanks to school life (as did we all… all! Don’t lie to yourself, it sucked). Several years later, both men enrol in the local police academy and form an odd friendship, despite their obvious differences. Upon graduation they discover that police life isn’t exactly what they had expected; namely riding around on their bicycles, keeping kids off the grass, fetching frisbees, etc. After witnessing a drugs deal by a local gang they actively intervene and make their first arrest, which is quickly thrown out because Jenko failed to read the Miranda Warning – the only part he could remember was “You have the right to remain silent.. you have.. the right to.. to.. to suck my dick, motherfucker!” Subsequently, their Captain transfers them to a revived undercover unit from the 80’s, specifically designed to send youthful police officers into high schools as students and infiltrate drug networks.

Schmidt and Jenko are given new aliases by their new Captain [Ice Cube] and clearly instructed to infiltrate the dealers and identify the supplier, whilst avoiding getting expelled or having any illegal (sexual, alcoholic or drug-related) contact with students or teachers. For Jenko, this is a chance to relive the glory days, whereas Schmidt feels nothing but apprehension for the return to school. On their first day, the two officers discover the status quo has been completely disrupted, the popular kids are now eco-friendly, poetry writing, intellectuals and the nerdy types are actually reckless and immature. A lack of preparation leads to Schmidt and Jenko’s false identities being mixed up but this strangely works out as both men fall in with the exact opposite crowd they were used to socialising with. Describing anything else would literally ruin an amazingly funny and bafflingly heartfelt story, so we’ll just press on to the analysis.

The key factor to this film’s success is the simultaneously predictable and surprisingly inventive nature of the script. Written with an exceptional amount of self-deprecatory, tongue-in-cheek humour, 21 Jump Street serves as an engaging buddy cop bromance as well as a dissection of the absurdity of the entire action genre. Lampooning itself, the film often plays up genre stereotypes to the height of skitish ridicule whilst overtly scolding the film industry for recycling safe, familiar ideas. Of course, the script would be nothing without fine actors to deliver it and the energy and chemistry between Tatum and Hill is genuinely glorious. The supporting roles are equally entertaining, heavily relying on relatively unknown talent and the various cameos and nods to the original series were amusing. Let’s face it, the majority of audience members aren’t going to have a clue who is or isn’t returning from the TV series but the fact that Johnny Depp makes an appearance will be probably cause a stir (at least it did in the screening I attended).

Outside of the hilarity and apt social commentary, the film manages to present itself well on a technical level too. Despite the rushed pacing to begin with, the editing is extraordinarily precise, rarely dragging or skipping over things. The direction is snappy and the visual effects are subtle but the score felt a little lacking, I appreciate it largely relied on contemporary tracks by popular artists but everything outside that was a little paint-by-numbers. Having said that, it probably needed to be in order for the jokes to actually work. So.. never mind, forget I said that. If anything, the level of humour, immaturity and stupidly insightful comments were much in the same styling as South Park and Get Him To The Greek: the majority of audiences may see it as vile, sophomoric nonsense but it is actually an incredibly witty, sincere and gripping story helmed by two fantastic lead performances.

I’ve been desperately racking my brain for some negative elements to balance out this review but if I’m being perfectly honest, I went in with little-to-no expectations and was genuinely surprised by the final product. Any negativity I can imagine surrounding this film will be regarding the humour itself or the complete departure from the TV show. But I enjoyed it. I really enjoyed this film and while it’s not a perfect release and resorted to countless crass developments, it still felt more intelligent and hysterical than the majority of films labelled as ‘comedies’.


Release Date:
16th March 2012

The Scene To Look Out For:
Two scenes for two completely different reasons stood out. First things first, Schmidt and Jenko’s re-introduction to the evolved state of high school cliques and practices was brilliant. As the identities are handed out, their Captain explains that both men will simply fall back into the routines they were subjected to several years ago. Their utter confusion on learning that comics are now considered cool, kids wear their bags with both straps and a whole myriad of other little changes over such a short span of time, really threw any previous plot expectations. Secondly, during a high speed car chase through the city, both cops repeatedly expect certain clichés to unfold: namely things to explode upon contact. The way it’s presented and the utter disorientation from the leads is priceless.

Notable Characters:
As stated above, the cameos and supporting roles are decent enough but the connection between Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill is breathtakingly good. The dumb jock, nerdy smart kid combo has been visited with varying success over the decades but making something not only entertaining but strangely believable was a real treat. The real surprise came from the fact that despite the typical setup, the relationship between these two men was endearing.

Highlighted Quote:
“Don’t bother Korean Jesus! He don’t care about your problems! He’s busy! With Korean shit!”

In A Few Words:
“Sweet, intelligent, funny, action-packed and decently acted are not words I would have thought I would use to describe this film.. but somehow 21 Jump Street manages to incorporate all these and more”

Total Score:

4/5