21 Jump Street (film)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

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, gets the cool kid fake profile and gets too into his role. Jenko, who was the popular kid at his school but was 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, people including the writers and directors who make the attempt work by acknowledging the absurdity of the situation and playing 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[1].

Tropes used in 21 Jump Street (film) include:
  • All Bikers Are Hells Angels: 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, who calls himself the "angry black Captain". 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, anyone?
  • Ax Crazy: Mr Walters.
  • Becoming the Mask: While pretending to be Schmidt's brother, Jenko comes to think of the Schmidts as his family.
  • Big Bad: Mr. Walters, the coach, 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.
  • Born in the Wrong Decade: Schmidt wishes he had been born ten years later so that he would've been one of the cool kids during his first trip through high school.
  • Brainless Beauty: Played straight with Jenko in the beginning of the film. Eventually its subverted by the end of the film.
  • Brains and Brawn: Schmidt and Jenko
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Schmidt initially has a lot of trouble asking Molly to the prom.
  • Chekhov's Skill: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 gas tanks and a tanker truck. Except with a chicken truck, of all things.
  • Eyepatch of Power: The leader of the One-Percenters sports one after he is caught in an explosion.
  • Famous Last Words: Schmidt overhears Hanson and Penhall's parting conversation and realizes that there's NOTHING more important than sticking by your partner's side. Even to the end.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • 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.
  • Gilligan Cut: Schmidt and Jenko enter the police force expecting "a lifetime of being Badass motherfuckers". Instead, they're put on park patrol duty.
  • Groin Attack: Mr. Walters getting his dick shot off in the climax.
  • 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.
  • High School Dance: The prom actually, and for Jenko its Serious Business.
  • Intoxication Ensues: Schmidt and Jenko take some of the drug, hallucinate Mr. Walters head turning into different things, and kick ass at whatever class they are taking.
    • Though it's more loudly and energetically doing anything at the class. At one point Jenko looks like he's making an intrinsically complex formula while on the drug and it turns out he was just drawing the number 4 repeatedly all over the board.
  • 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.
  • Killed Off for Real / Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: 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)
  • 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.
  • Miranda Rights: It takes a few tries for Jenko to get these memorized.
  • Mistaken for Homophobic: Jenko punches a nerd and calls him gay, not realizing that 1) the student is actually gay and 2) using "gay" as an insult is no longer considered acceptable.
  • Mythology Gag:

Domingo: "You played saxophone at my sister's wedding, man..."
Hanson: "Tough titty. I fucked her too."

      • This also wasn't the first time Penhall went undercover as a biker.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Johnny Simmons as Billiam, the student who first shows just what the HFS drug does. It's hilarious.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Rearrange the Song: The original theme during the credits.
  • 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.
  • Sequel Hook: Following the success of their bust, Schmidt and Jenko are assigned to continue the 21 Jump Street program at a college. A sequel is already in the early stages of development, with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum attached to return, and the former slated to co-write again.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out:
    • When Schmidt sees an old baby photo of his, he remarks:

"I look like Fred Savage from The Wonder Years..."

    • 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 Mc Clane.
  • 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.
  • Sir Swearsalot: Dickson.
  • Stealth Sequel: To the original show. First off, Word of 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, Word of 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.
  • 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 Glee", possibly a response to a Take That from Glee to Channing Tatum.
  • The Reveal: These two bikers from the One-Percenter gang? Hanson and Penhall.
  • 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, they are seen having sex in the credits.
  • 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.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Schmidt over the course of the movie though he got better.
  • Two-Teacher School Averted while only three teachers and a principal are shown only three classes are shown so It's implied there are other teachers at the school.
  • Vigilante Man: Schmidt and Jenko after they're kicked off the force, even though they still operate within the law.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Eric freaks the fuck out after learning Schmidt and Jenko are cops.
    • Mr. Walters has one too. Having his dick shot off would do that.
  • 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 Superbad).
  1. i.e. all of them