"We're reviving a cancelled undercover police program from the '80s and revamping it for modern time. See, the guys in charge of this stuff lack creativity and are completely out of ideas. So all they do now is recycle shit from the past and hope that nobody notices."
The 2012 film adaptation of the late eighties series stars Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum), two screw-up rookie cops who get reassigned to an undercover program where "JustinBeaver, Miley Cyrus lookin' mothas" are sent into high schools. It's an admitted attempt to avoid any creativity by digging up old programs and rehashing them and hoping people won't notice... the undercover program, that is.Schmidt and Jenko's assignment is to find the makers of a new synthetic drug at a local high school before it spreads to other schools. Schmidt, who was never popular at his own school, receives the cool kid fake profile and gets too into his role. Jenko, who was the popular kid at his school but a failure at everything else, gets the nerdy kid profile and chafes under not understanding what is cool anymore.When it comes to the actual film's rehashed premise, people did notice, including the writers and directors, who acknowledge the absurdity of the situation and play it for worthwhile laughs. On top of its own premise, the film pokes fun at the action movie genre and any high school movie where people only hang out in the same easily identifiable cliques. i.e. all of them.The film received positive reviews from critics (85% on Rotten Tomatoes) and was a sizable hit at the box office, earning nearly $202 million worldwide against a $42 million budget.A sequel was released, 22 Jump Street, in which the duo go undercover as college students.Compare with Superbad, Hot Fuzz, and The Heat.
The film provides examples of:
Actor Allusion: Ice Cube's verse from "Straight Outta Compton" plays as he talks to Jenko and Schmidt.
Affably Evil: Eric. He may be a drug dealer, but that doesn't mean he can't be a very nice guy.
Jenko insists that Schmidt carry his backpack with only one strap as all the cool kids did in their day. When they get to school, everyone's using both straps.
Jenko encourages his Nerd friends to attend the prom and describes their entrance with Disturbed Doves. He actually brings them out when they do attend prom together.
Jenko finally throws up during the prom shootout.
Korean Jesus appears in the ending credits.
A very minor one, but when Schmidt and Jenko are engaging the bikers for weed, one of them says, "if they're cops, [he's] DEA." and gets a chuckle from the biker next to him. Cut to the end of the movie, and it's revealed that they are both undercover DEA agents. See Remake Cameo below
Casual Danger Dialogue: Parodied — when Schmidt & Jenko affirm to a disbelieving Hanson & Penhall (who have been undercover in Domingo's gang for years with the D.E.A.) that they're undercover by noting they're with Jump Street, Hanson promptly forgets about the gang pointing their guns at them as he mentions that he & Penhall used to be with Jump Street... And is promptly shot in the neck.
Dawson Casting: But of course. Both in-universe and out of it. Subverted in that all the suspects keep commenting that Schmidt and Jenko look really old for teenagers. Lampshaded to hell and back, but still ultimately played straight, a "Seven Years Later" time skip after high school means they should be roughly 25 (assuming they haven't been on the job that long, which they likely weren't,) whereas Hill and Tatum were 29 and 32 at the time.
Death by Cameo: Hanson and Penhall reveal they've been undercover DEA agents for years, then get shot repeatedly.
Divine Race Lift: Played with. As 21 Jump Street was once a Korean church, Schmidt prays to Korean Jesus.
Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Averted. When a female family friend nearly blows Schmidt's cover in front of the students, he accuses her of molesting him. The students are all disgusted by this and rush to Schmidt's defense.
Drugs Are Bad: But they do have a part in the life of a professional actor (says the drama teacher).
Dumb Muscle: Jenko, at least at the beginning of the movie, where he's a jock who's failing all his classes.
Everyone Loves Blondes: Molly, the designated Love Interest in the film. Fugazy can be seen as this too, as a deleted scene shows she's sexually attracted to Jenko and she makes out with him at the end of the movie.
Eye Patch Of Power: The leader of the One-Percenters sports one after he is caught in an explosion.
"Doug, I know sometimes I was a jerk to you when we were undercover. I just... I didn't feel good about myself. All the stuff I wore like, the bracelets, the rings, the tight pants. It was just so that people would think I'm cool. The only approval that I ever needed... was my best friend."
Hanson's first line is "If you're a cop, then I'm D.E.A." He is, in fact, undercover for the D.E.A.
Jenko says that the drug tastes like BBQ Cool Ranch. Mr. Walters, who is eventually revealed to be the supplier, is seen eating Doritos throughout the movie.
Even more so, it's revealed that HFS was made from Cool Ranch Doritos and a mixture of drugs from the chemistry lab.
Jenko threatens to beat the dick off of one of the bikers he arrested. Near the end, the gym teacher, Mr. Walters, gets his dick shot off.
Throughout the film, you can see parking tickets accumulate on the windshield of Schmidt and Jenko's car. Eventually, when they actually do run into an emergency where they need to use their car, the wheels are locked by the police.
"I would've taken a bullet for you." In the climax, Jenko takes a bullet, though he survives.
Friends with Benefits: Eric and Molly are in a casual relationship, and when Schmidt shows interest in her, Eric doesn't mind him taking her away from him.
Groin Attack: Mr. Walters getting his dick shot off in the climax.
Schmidt kicks a guy in the nuts.
Hollywood Law: You only have to read suspects the Miranda Rights when you're questioning them, not in order to arrest them or get the charges to stick. Also, cops are forbidden from reciting the Miranda Rights from memory to prevent errors.
Heartbeat Soundtrack: Plays when Schmidt asks his neighbor to the prom in the beginning of the movie.
The quote at the top of the page that could refer to the program and the movie.
"And that's the end of act two!" (curtains close)
Lock and Load Montage: Parodied — Jenko & Schmidt are simultaneously getting ready for the prom & busting the head of the drug ring, only for Schmidt's mother to interrupt by making them do chores. Cue the two cops mowing the lawn & taking out trash in white tuxedos, before continuing with the montage.
Love at First Sight: Schmidt falls for Molly immediately, but holds himself back due to his job.
Made of Explodium: Subverted during the chase sequence when the most likely things to explode: a gasoline transport vehicle, and a truck carrying propane tanks do not explode from contact. Of course, the subversions go to hell and backwhen the one thing that does explode is a truck transporting (wait for it)... chickens.
Miranda Rights: It takes a few tries for Jenko to get these memorized.
Dickson: As you can see, this kid is white. That means people actually give a shit.
Schmidt: Sir, I would like to throw out to you that I would give a shit if he were black.
Mistaken for Racist: Jenko punches a nerd and then tells him to turn off "that gay-ass music", not realizing that using "gay" as an insult is no longer considered acceptable, and promptly learns that the student actually was gay. Schmidt tries to defuse the situation by pointing out that Jenko couldn't have known he was gay as they'd never met, but just manages to make it worse.
Only a Flesh Wound: After getting into a fight at the party he and Jenko throw, Schmidt doesn't realize he's been stabbed in the shoulder blade until someone points it out. After getting patched up with what looks like gauze and duct tape, the wound doesn't seem to bother him for the rest of the movie. Averted when Jenko gets shot in the shoulder at the end; it takes a while for him to get to his feet, and high-fiving Schmidt aggravates the injury.
Parental Substitute: As the film progresses, Jenko comes to think of Schmidt's family as his own. This becomes more poignant when you realize that, according to Word of God, Jenko is the son of Captain Richard Jenko, who was killed off in the first season of the original series. Greg Jenko would have been very young at the time.
Passing the Torch: The whole point of Hanson and Penhall's cameo was to put closure to the original "McQuaid Brothers", giving Schmidt and Jenko, the new "McQuaid Brothers", their time to shine.
Reality Ensues: Schmidt and Jenko's first attempts to blend in go disastrously. They act like they did back in high school, only to find that the other students react with disdain at best, and outright disgust at worst. The highlight of this is when Jenko uses "gay" as an insult after punching a kid for no reason. Turns out the kid really is gay, and Jenko just dug himself in deeper.
Reconstruction: A fairly unusual example. Previous Deconstructions of High School films focused on the failings of Generation X and early millenials. This movie serves to highlight many of millenials' positive traits, while contrasting them with their predecessors (i.e. it's now considered cool to be liberal, accepting of gays, and an environmentalist).
Remake Cameo: Johnny Depp, Peter DeLuise, and Holly Robinson Peete all reprise their roles as Tom Hanson, Doug Penhall, and Judy Hoffs, respectively. It's revealed that Hoffs still works with the police while Hanson and Penhall are now undercover DEA agents.
After they crack the case, Schmidt and Jenko remark that it's like the ending to Die Hard, but in real life. At that point, Jenko is wearing a white tank top and has been shot in the shoulder, just like McClane.
When Stephen J. Cannell's name appears in the end credits montage, the background is the memorable vanity plate for his production company, with Cannell at his typewriter and tossing a page over his shoulder.
The "Pop Quiznos" section of the final chase (while making an improvised bomb, even) is a Shout-Out to Speed.
Shown Their Work: The criminal motorcycle gang are named "One Percenters." In real-life, "One Percenters" is a catch-all term for criminal bikers, so called because of studies which have shown that, despite public perception, only one percent of bikers are actually criminals.
Sinister Surveillance: Jenko and his Nerd friends tap into Eric's phone and routinely listen in on his conversations to track his drug deals, which Schmidt found questionable. However, this also leads to a rift between the two when Jenko overhears Schmidt openly mocking him.
String Theory: Schmidt and Jenko presents one displaying the relationships between the students and the dealers, with the supplier indicated by a question mark at the top. After a convoluted explanation:
Capt. Dickson: Who put this together, are you autistic?
Schmidt: It is artistic, sir.
Capt. Dickson: Cut the bullshit. I want to know who's the supplier.
Schmidt: We don't know. That's why there's a question mark on his face. That's not the way his face looks, that's just a question mark.
Jenko's "Fuck you Glee", possibly a response to a Take That from Glee to Channing Tatum.
Teacher/Student Romance: Mostly averted. Although the AP Chemistry teacher is very obviously hot for Jenko, when she (more or less) spits it out, Jenko reacts with bewilderment and confusion. However, it is revealed in the end credits that they were having wild sex during the time Jenko was high as a kite and he doesn't remember the encounter.
Ms. Griggs: "Oh my God! You're like two hardy boys in one!"
Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Surprisingly averted, which is a rarity in the buddy-cop genre. Despite being bullied by Jerk Jock Jenko in high school, Schmidt and his old rival become fast friends when they join the police force, once they realize that they could help improve each other's weaknesses as a team.
Eric shows his first signs of his decline when he faces the possibility of being arrested after word gets to him that the One Percenters were tracked by cops. He starts freaking out once he learns Schmidt and Jenko are said cops and completely loses it once the gunfight begins.
Mr. Walters has one too. Having his dick shot off would do that.
Visual Pun: The end credits have a few of these. The Director of Photography credit is accompanied by footage of a shooting range, the Editor credit by footage of a tree getting cut down, and the Casting credit by footage of a couch.
Wild Teen Party: Schmidt and Jenko throw one to get close to the drug dealers. At one point, they wonder how they are going to get beer for the party, since neither one has a fake ID, then laugh at the idea (which may be a Shout-Out to Super Bad).
Wilhelm Scream: One of the bikers during the chase scene on the bridge. And again during the credits.