"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 "Justin Beaver
, 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:
- Affably Evil: Eric. He may be a drug dealer, but that doesn't mean he can't be a very nice guy.
- Affectionate Parody: Yes, the movie lampoons the show's premise to hell and back, but the writers clearly know way too much about the original series for this to be anything else.
- All Bikers Are Hells Angels: Invoked with the One-Percenter gang.
- Alpha Bitch: Two cops that are undercover as cheerleaders act like this at Jump Street.
- Angry Black Man: Lampshaded by Dickson. The biker gang also has one of these, their group leader.
- Ascended Meme:
- In the video from a student detailing the effects of the HFS drug, the top comment is "I can't masturbate to this."
- "Kneel before Zod."
- Asian and Nerdy: Roman, one of Jenko's Nerd friends.
- Ax-Crazy: Mr. Walters.
- Becoming the Mask:
- While pretending to be Schmidt's brother, Jenko comes to think of the Schmidts as his family.
- Jenko calls Schmidt out on becoming too involved with the suspects because he's enjoying being part of the popular crowd & subsequently jeopardising the case.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Subtly occurs between Jenko and Fugazy. Even though Fugazy mocks Jenko and Schmidt while boasting about her successes, she finds Jenko attractive and the two were making out at the end of the movie.
- Big Bad Ensemble: Mr. Walters and Eric are running the drug ring.
- Domingo and his gang (The One-Percenters) are a lot worse than Eric and Mr. Walters. The gang is far more capable of violence and most definitely got what they deserved in the end.
- Blipvert: The credits.
- Blond Guys Are Evil: Eric, the resident Smug Snake, though a Freudian Excuse would indicate that his life as a Lonely Rich Kid Ace was a huge factor in his behavior as a Hipster Jerkass.
- Born in the Wrong Decade: When Schmidt was originally in High School, he had trouble fitting in. A decade later, nerdy things and being more socially accepting is trendy. Suddenly, he has no problems making friends in High School. He even acknowledges that he wishes he was born ten years later
- Book Ends: The end credits open and close with renditions of the show's theme song.
- Brainless Beauty: Played straight with Jenko in the beginning of the film. Eventually it's subverted by the end of the film.
- Brains and Brawn: Schmidt and Jenko.
- Brick Joke:
- 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
- Bromantic Comedy: Edging on Ho Yay.
Schmidt to Jenko: "I fucking cherish you."
- Cannot Spit It Out: Schmidt initially has a lot of trouble asking Molly to the prom.
- 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.
- Chekhov's Skill/Chekhov's Classroom: Jenko's newfound knowledge of chemistry comes in handy during the climax.
- Cluster F-Bomb: This is a very foul-mouthed movie.
- 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.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Jenko finds out the hard way that, in the age of Glee, environmentalism, and a more pro-tolerance atmosphere, his alpha-male jock routine puts him a lot lower on the Popularity Food Chain than it did in the early-mid '00s. Instead, it's Schmidt, the former high school nerd, whose personality and lifestyle are more in line with what's considered cool in The New Tens.
- Deconstructive Parody: This movie itself is one affectionate "fuck you" to the original show, poking fun at all the tropes from it and more.
- Denser and Wackier: A slapstick, buddy-cop satire adapted from a show which was much, much more dramatic in tone, commenting on subjects like rape, drug abuse, prostitution, etc.
- Disturbed Doves: Invoked Trope. Jenko insists that this is needed to make the perfect prom entrance.
- 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.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: Schmidt and Jenko are surprised when this turns out not to be Truth in Television, after two close calls with a truck hauling propane tanks and a gasoline tanker. Except with a chicken truck, of all things.
- 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.
- Famous Last Words: Tom Hanson had this.
"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."
- 555: The number to call for H.F.S.
- 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.
- Fun with Acronyms: The drug, HFS — Holy Fucking Shit.
- Get Rich Quick Scheme: The only reason why Eric is involved in dealing drugs.
- Gilligan Cut: Schmidt and Jenko enter the police force expecting "a lifetime of being badass motherfuckers". Instead, they're put on park patrol duty.
- Good Is Not Nice: Schmidt, Jenko, and Captain Dickson.
- 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.
- Jenko's "wiretap" of Eric's phone is illegal for a variety of reasons.
- Heartbeat Soundtrack: Plays when Schmidt asks his neighbor to the prom in the beginning of the movie.
- High School Dance: The prom actually, and for Jenko it's Serious Business.
- Hope Spot: When Jenko and Schmidt find themselves with their cover blown and unarmed with the One-Percenters about to kill them two of the members reveal themselves to be Tom Hanson and Doug Penhall, who then force the gang to drop their guns and give Jenko and Schmidt theirs back. Unfortunately, they then get distracted when Jenko tells them that he and Schmidt are with Jump Street, giving the gang the opportunity to pick up their guns and shoot them repeatedly.
- Hot for Student: One of Jenko's teachers quite clearly wants him.
- Hunk: Jenko is noted to be a "classic handsome, none of that hipster 'Am I a girl? Am I a guy? I dunno'."
- Instant Death Bullet: Right after Hanson and Penhall say some last apologies after both are shot very repeatedly, a One-Percenter that Jenko shoots goes down with no trouble from one shot.
- Intoxication Ensues: Schmidt and Jenko take some of the drug, hallucinate Mr. Walters' head turning into different things, and then flip out during their next class.
- Invulnerable Knuckles: Averted. Schmidt takes a punch to the gut. Eventually he hits the guy back, then clutches his hand in pain and says "That hurt worse than when he hit me!".
- Jerk Jock: Jenko was one of these in high school, and seemed to have this trait still when he went undercover by punching the first person he saw.
- Justified Title: The sequel, 22 Jump Street, sees the church bought back by the Koreans, thus forcing the program to move to — you guessed it — 22 Jump Street.
- Killed Off for Real: Hanson and Penhall after getting shot to hell. Huge pools of blood gush out of their bodies to drive the point home for fans in doubt.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
- 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 back when the one thing that does explode is a truck transporting (wait for it)... chickens. Double Subverted when Jenko throws a self-made bomb which initially doesn't explode but finally does – with a huge BOOM.
- Miranda Rights: It takes a few tries for Jenko to get these memorized.
- Missing White Woman Syndrome: Conversed with Captain Dickson.
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.
- Motifs: Covalent bond is mentioned and explained several times. This can be seen as a symbol of at least two things: the friendship between Jenko and Schmidt as well as the fact their strengths complement each other.
- Mythology Gag:
- Noodle Incident: Schmidt talks over the drama teachers reminiscing of his acting career. But we do hear such delights as doing coke with Willie Nelson's horse...
- The original line was "Whitney Houston's niece", but was dubbed over in the wake of Houston's death.
- Older Than They Look: Schmidt and Jenko are able to pass for high schoolers, despite being in their 20's.
- 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.
- Plato Is a Moron: While on HFS at band practice, Jenko yells out "Fuck you, Miles Davis!"
- Playful Hacker: Zack, who Jenko utilizes to tap into Eric's phone.
- Power Walk: Schmidt, Jenko, and the nerds do it at prom. It doesn't look cool, though, since Schmidt and Jenko are the only ones with decent tuxedos.
- Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Schmidt used to be like this in school when he dressed like Eminem.
- Prison Rape: Eric fears this the most out of being arrested.
Eric: Do you know what happens to a handsome guy like me in jail? It rhymes with "grape!"
- 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.
- After screwing up royally and getting expelled, Jenko and Schmidt are called back in front of Captain Dickson, who is uncharacteristically silent.
Schmidt: Are you going to...yell at us or something?
Dickson: Nope. I'm just gonna fire your asses.
- Rearrange the Song: The original theme during the credits.
- 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).
- Recycled In Space: 22 Jump Street is THE FIRST MOVIE! IN! COLLEGE!
- 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.
- The Reveal: These two bikers◊ from the One-Percenter gang? Hanson and Penhall.
- Sassy Black Woman: Jr. Jr.
- School Play: Schmidt plays Peter Pan alongside Molly as Wendy.
- Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: Jenko to Schmidt. They're friends now, though their relationship does get strained until they meet Penhall and Hanson.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Mr. Walters when he spots his severed penis lying on the ground.
- Sequel Hook: Following the success of their bust, Schmidt and Jenko are assigned to continue the 21 Jump Street program at a college. 22 Jump Street was released in 2014.
- Self-Deprecation: Da Chief makes fun of restarting the 21 Jump Street program, saying that it was done by people stuck in the past who can't come up with any new ideas.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Schmidt and Jenko.
- When Schmidt sees an old baby photo of his, he remarks:
- 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.
- During his HFS-inspired science rant, Jenko mentions Unobtainium, a flux capacitor, and a radioactive spider.
- 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.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Dickson.
- Smug Snake: Eric by tenfold.
- Stealth Sequel: To the original show. First off, Wordof God says that the chapel in the film is the exact same chapel from the show, that was simply leased to a Korean Church◊ and bought back by the police force. Secondly, Wordof God also implies that Jenko is the son of Richard Jenko,◊ the captain of the original team that was killed off midway through the first season. Thirdly, the cameos show that most of the original team is still active.
- 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.
- The Stoner: Schmidt's parents.
- Talking Is a Free Action: Subverted; Hanson and Penhall end up getting shot because of their talking. Played straight as they're dying.
- Take That:
- Johnny Depp hated working on the show. In order to put closure, he agreed to cameo under the condition that Hanson dies by the end. And that's exactly what happened.
- 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.
- Three-Way Sex: Briefly glimpsed during the Wild Teen Party.
- Title Drop: Subverted by Capt. Hardy, who fumbles on the location Schmidt and Jenko are supposed to report to. Though Hanson does refer to Jump Street by its name.
- Token Good Teammate: Molly, in the drug-dealing popular kids.
- Took a Level in Badass: Schmidt during the movie, as he gains more self-confidence and learns new skills.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Schmidt over the course of the movie, though he gets better.
- Training Montage: Used to show Schmidt & Jenko's time in police academy & the development of their friendship.
- Twofer Token Minority: Lampshaded, in the person of the gay black kid that Jenko punches.
- Two-Teacher School: Only three teachers and a principal are shown.
- Villainous Breakdown:
- 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.
- Was It All a Lie?: Inverted. Eric asks this when Schmidt's cover as a student is blown.
- 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.