March 16, 2012, - 7:15 pm

Wknd Box Office: 21 Jump Street, Jeff Who Lives at Home

By Debbie Schlussel

No great shakes at the box office this weekend.  Here’s what debuts today in theaters today:

*  “21 Jump Street“:  If you believe that a severed penis is funny, this is your movie.  If you believe that a severed penis in a man’s mouth is even funnier, this is definitely your movie.  For everyone else who actually has a sense of humor–and a sense of taste and decency to go along with it–skip this.  It’s disgusting, vile, stupid, and repeats the same jokes and gags over and over.  And here’s a hint that it sucked:  the studio didn’t screen it for critics until Thursday Night, something they do to avoid bad reviews in newspapers.  They didn’t have much faith in this product, and for good reason.

I hated the cheesy late ’80s TV series on which this is supposed to be based.  At the time, I couldn’t watch more than ten minutes before I changed channels.  This “remake” or, rather, warped “reboot” of that awful series isn’t better.  It’s worse.  And it has nothing to do with the original, except the gratuitous cameos by three of the originals, Johnny Depp, Holly Robinson Peete, and Peter DeLuise.


This is supposed to be a comedy, but it’s not funny.  Just cringe- and groan-worthy.  Jonah Hill stars in, wrote, and executive produced this movie.  So, maybe it’s a hint that he should stick to acting.  This makes his raunchy “Superbad” (read my review) look like highbrow fare.

Hill and Channing Tatum play cops who are misfits and failures.  Tatum is dumb.  And Hill is a coward and not physically able.  When they fail to foil a motorcycle drug ring after forgetting the Miranda (Tatum) warning and being too lame to shoot at one of them, the two of them are kicked out of the regular police force and sent to “21 Jump Street,” an undercover police outfit that infiltrates high schools to take down crime rings.  Oh, and it’s run by Ice Cube.  Hey, isn’t he the rapper creep of “F–k Tha Police” fame?  Yup.  Now, despite that, he gets to play one in a crappy movie.  Only in America.

While there were a very few funny lines, the movie was filthy and gross.  The only good thing about it was that it mocked liberal, left-wing high school students.  They were politically correct and environmentally conscious.  And they were also running a drug ring.

Still, that tiny source of solace wasn’t enough to justify this piece of crap.  But I’m not the target audience for this excrement.  It’s aimed at 20-something guys and teen kids whose moronic parents are more sperm and womb/egg donors and want so badly to be their kids’ friends that they will allow them to see this.  It’s rated “r” for many stark reasons.

A great Al-Qaeda recruitment video, the message of which is:  see, I told you the West is comprised of a bunch of depraved idiots.

Just remember:  everyone in and connected to this movie probably voted for Obama.  And they’ll probably vote for him again in November.

FOUR MARXES PLUS A BIN LADEN
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Watch the trailer . . .

*  “Jeff, Who Lives at Home“:  The movie centers on a 30-something unemployed, pot-smoking slacker, Jeff (Jason Segel), who lives in his mother’s (Susan “I am the One Percent Posing as the 99 Percent” Sarandon) basement and his irresponsible, married brother (Ed Helms).  One day, Jeff keeps hearing and seeing the name, “Kevin,” and so he follows everything with that name.  Ultimately, it turns out that this loser toker has a mission and is something of a hero.  PUH-LEEZE.  We see a million slacker loser guys just like this in our prolonged childhood society.  None of them is on a “mission from G-d.”  None is a hero.  They are weights on society, pulling it down.

The last time I liked a lazy, pot-smoking toker at the movies, it was Jeff Spicoli (in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”).  But you rooted for him because there was no pretense of some guy on a G-dly mission.  The guys in this movie?  Who cares.

Ditto for everyone else in the flick.  Skip it.

TWO-AND-A-HALF MARXES
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Watch the trailer . . .

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20 Responses

“The last time I liked a lazy, pot-smoking toker at the movies, it was Jeff Spicoli (in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”).”

So you didn’t care for “The Dude” in “The Big Lebowski?”

I: I forgot about him. but he was okay. I like Jeff Spicoli better. DS

Irving on March 16, 2012 at 10:23 pm

These flicks seem to be targeted at people who smoke way too much pot. (For the record – the “War on Drugs” is a big fail. Sorry.)

But what I’m REALLY looking forward to is what DS will have to say about “Hunger Games”. Judging from the trailers and clips, I have this bizarre feeling that this movie is – let say it rhymes with “panty-emetic”?

So this weekend – TORRENTS AND SKYRIM!

The Reverend Jacques on March 16, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    The War on Drugs is interesting. I’m a board certified psychiatrist who runs a 16 bed inpatient unit AND is the consulting psychiatrist for a Native American opioid treatment program. (I’m suboxone qualified)

    I KNOW that what I would see if legalization occured is even more pathology in the Native Community, which is already horrifying beyond belief. I think what advocates of legalization sometimes forget is that the war on drugs is much more akin to the Norse gods fighting the Frost Giants than anything else I’ve seen. It is the ultimate grey. You are stuck in a dirty situation because the alternative is worse, and, although the best you can do is buy some time, the fight is worth continuing because prolonging the time to ultimate defeat is worth it.

    Occam's Tool on March 23, 2012 at 1:38 am

Both of these films seem to be filler. As for 21 Jump Street, it was indeed horrible as a television series. Why would anyone want to drag it out of the vault in order to create a feature film? It is not like there was a howing demand for it.

Worry01 on March 17, 2012 at 3:06 am

Debbie, your review of 21 Jump Street was spot-on perfect. I’m glad you tore it apart. It had a lot of problems on a lot of levels.

One thing I disagree with you on (in a way) has to do with film screenings in general. You say that if a film isn’t screened, it’s probably a sign that the critics won’t like it, and you imply that if critics won’t like it, that means it’s probably a lousy film. I’ve found almost the opposite. From my point of view, if film critics (other than you) like the film, that’s a bad sign. If they don’t like it, I’m hopeful.

In this case, the critics adored the film. It has 87% approval at Rotten Tomatoes, and I found their worshipful praise sickening and misguided.

I agree with you that having the cool evil kids be environmentalists was a funny idea. The screenwriters made sure, though, that critics knew that the film was politically correct; later, the really bad guy calls these young environmentalists “green pukes.” This line by the really bad guy was completely unnecessary except to let critics know that they only made the high schoolers environmentalists as a sort of sly joke on changing fashion, but really (wink, wink) this was a progressive film.

The severed penis is an old joke which was used in the nineties by avant-garde comedy auteurs like John Waters and Todd Solondz. In this film, it was just grating. It clashed with the film’s lazy and ingratiating sentimentalism. Another thing that clashed was having people shot up and bloodied. Really? In a comedy?

Channing played an exaggeratedly dumb hunk again, as he did in The Vow. He’s become a male bimbo, a manly Suzanne Somers. I don’t object too strongly, but it should be recognized the extent to which our culture has changed and become confused.

Another aspect of the film I disliked was the almost continual “funny” casual use of drugs by everybody. Even the powerful drug that the cops are trying to crack down on looks “awesome” until the Hill and Channing characters learn that it also causes death. When a party needs to be thrown, it’s supposedly cool and hilarious that these two get their stash from illegal contraband at police headquarters. And was it really necessary to show Hill’s movie mom smoking weed with her husband on the way home from a date they had?

Thank you, Debbie, for calling it like it is. You were right to admit there were a couple of laughs in the story. But you were even more right to pan the film as a whole. This film has a veneer of fun, but underneath it’s tonally and morally broken. Even sadder is the amount of love showered on it by critics.

Burke on March 17, 2012 at 7:53 am

Another film that came out this week– which you didn’t review (maybe because it’s all in Spanish)– was “Casa de mi Padre.” It stars Will Farrell but is intended for English audiences, even though it’s all subtitled. I loved it. It’s an understated parody of Hispanic soap operas and many other things besides. One interesting scene has a Mexican drug dealer eloquently defend his criminal activities, saying “Americans want our drugs. If they wanted candy, I’d provide that. It’s good business.” Nothing better illustrates the strength of his argument than the blithe encouragement given to pot and other illegal drugs in “21 Jump Street.”

Burke on March 17, 2012 at 8:08 am

Brad Pitt had a cameo as a stoner in True Romance, as Lloyd that I thought was Oscar-Worthy….

Steve Epps on March 17, 2012 at 9:26 am

I liked it better when movies were targeted to adults with brains. Since movie makers started making movies for the 17-18 year old demographic, our cultural rot has accelerated.

JeffT on March 17, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Jeff, there’s a lot of truth in your observation. Movies have degraded as they’ve increasingly targeted the teen demographic. For the most part, teens are psychologically sick individuals: narcissistic, rashly destructive, generally lacking in integrity and character, and inclined to an absolutist morality that causes more harm than good. In general, movies for, about and full of teens for these reasons are “sick” as well.

    This film, though, is of particular interest because of the rave reviews it picked up around the country–86% approval at Rotten Tomatoes is extraordinary. Even very artsy foreign films with huge pretensions don’t do that well as a rule.

    Of course, one simple explanation for the enthusiasm might be that film critics are mostly liberals, and liberals are emotionally and developmentally stuck as teens no matter how old they get. I firmly believe that. But even that doesn’t explain why other teen movies (like “Project X,” for example) get more mixed reactions.

    The answer, I think, can be found in the story’s deeper subtext. The critics seem to agree that this film “hilariously” mocks the eighties. Liberals hate the eighties, of course–that was the decade of Reagan, “greed” and supposed complacent conservatism. In the story, Channing Tatum and Johan Hill play a popular dumb jock and fairly-hip-but-still- socially-shunned nerd. When they return to school, the cultural scene has reversed to such an extent that the complacent dumb jock is now the pariah–but a nerd who can jive with blacks and who keeps up with political correctness is rewarded with everything from praise and acceptance to a prom date with the hottest blonde in the school. In other words, this is delicious pablum to critics who once resented jocks and still despise fly-over-country rubes.

    Burke on March 19, 2012 at 10:05 am

Re: severed penises or not

“Just remember: everyone in and connected to this movie probably voted for Obama. And they’ll probably vote for him again in November.”

Is Hussein Obama’s penis circumcised like all otjer muslims?

Bill Co2 on March 17, 2012 at 12:30 pm

This is what happens when a Jewish kid in Hollywood has too much time and money bestowed on him by his parents in the biz.
Oy Gevalt! is not strong enough.
Any suggestions?

Ron Wolf aka "Columbo" on March 17, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Debbie,

I’m also curious as to what you’ll have to say about “The Hunger Games.” It comes out the 23rd of this month, and it’s gotten a lot of publicity. The preview was sick, yet riveting. I just finished the book which was also sick. And now unfortunately, can’t get it out of my head.

As Jews, there are three conditions where we’re required to give up our lives. The first one is if someone were to say to you, “I’ll kill you unless you kill this or that innocent person.” The second one is if someone says “Bow down before this idol.” The third situation is if someone says “commit this act of sexual immorality or I’ll kill you.”

Z: Great Minds Think Alike! I’ll be seeing that tomorrow (Monday), and I was planning to post something about it today, b/c I don’t like the ideas in the movie at all. Stay tuned. DS

Zelda on March 18, 2012 at 3:02 pm

I know what he’s doing in the basement – supporting Ron Paul. :o)

Craig B on March 18, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Sorry to hear that so many people disliked the original “21 Jump Street” series. For my age group, it was a cultural phenomenon, one of the best shows on TV. There was a lot of young talent on that show who went on to bigger and better things – both in front of and behind the camera – and they did some pretty innovative stuff. And unlike most of the shows that were on Fox then (and now) the show had a conservative, DEFINITELY politically incorrect streak. It took a tough, no-nonsense attitude towards crime, including the Reagan “just say no!” approach to drugs. It totally, completely rejected the idea that social conditions create crime, or should be used as excuses to justify lighter sentences and policing methods. Instead, it showed criminals as the vermin and predators that they are, and had a “lock-em up!” mentality. The show did a good job of addressing a lot of contemporary political issues, and took an even keel, generally fairly presenting both sides (except for one gratuitous Christianity-bashing one). The show was extremely moralistic, and made no bones about stating that the root cause of the criminal and other negative activity depicted in the show was bad morals. Not good people making “bad choices” but bad, evil immoral people being bad because they were bad. You aren’t going to find that sort of moral clarity in Hollywood today, even from allegedly conservative projects. The cops on 21 Jump Street weren’t just police officers, but moral agents and culture warriors (especially the police chief) fighting moral and cultural decline among high school students. That was 180 degrees from the “police officer as dark, edgy, troubled flawed anti-hero” that came out with the loathsome “NYPD Blue” and has been dominant ever since. Of course, 21 Jump Street’s view of police officers and law enforcement wasn’t realistic, BUT IT WAS TELEVISION, so it wasn’t supposed to be. The point was depicting teenagers for what they actually are – instead of Hollywood usually pretending that they are smarter and more moral and capable than their parents – and showing the need for adults (cops who looked like teenagers but were still mature adults, and under the supervision of the even more mature Williams; it was great that they got rid of the liberal hippie captain after the first season!) and were needed to guide and protect kids. And as the show as aimed at the teen demographic … well compare that to stuff aimed at teens now. Forget that … compare that to stuff aimed at preteens and children on Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and allegedly “family-oriented” Disney.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t maintain it. What was a brilliant show the first 2 seasons degenerated into total dreck by season 4. Good while it lasted though!

Gerald on March 18, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Good comment, Gerald. I always enjoy hearing your perspective, since it’s always reasonable, well written, and from a conservative point of view. There are too few out there willing to express their view of the media with your particular combination of strong qualities.

    I never saw the TV show, although knowing that Johnny Depp starred in it was never a plus for me. But I’m willing to reconsider passing judgment on it after hearing what you and Randal had to say in its defense.

    The movie, though, was truly a dog–and besides that it was deeply, deeply permissive in regard to illegal drugs (except for the case when they might kill you, and even there the message was ambiguous).

    Burke on March 23, 2012 at 6:56 am

Jeff may become an icon for the losers of that generation. Sad, pathetic b.s.. Hopefully they’ll be the first to become “soylent green”.

samurai on March 18, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Samurai, I’m guessing you’re a fan of Pol Pot and have a poster of him in your mom’s basement where you live, since he also disliked conservative old fogies and went about eliminating them as best he could. He didn’t eat them, but the results were the same.

    By the way, when you reply, the usual method is to place your comment so that it directly follows the one you’re addressing so there’s not a lot of confusion. After all, there are two Jeffs who made comments this week (JeffT and Jeff_W).

    Burke on March 23, 2012 at 7:05 am

I refuse to see any movie with Johah Hill since Superbad. I’m tired of this goof. I get he has a kind of appeal of a loveable loser type, but I’m tired of his whiny persona.

He was a whiny jerk in Superbad. I’m tired of that other guy, Michael Cera(?), from Superbad, too. In fact, Superbad was only watchable because of McLovin.

Jeff_W on March 18, 2012 at 11:10 pm

John Belushi -> Chris Farley -> Jonah Hill

Who’s next, eh?

The Reverend Jacques on March 19, 2012 at 1:29 am

Have to disagree – 21 Jumpstreet was a very good TV series. It covered some very interesting topics. I thought the acting was pretty good also. Debbie you should know better than to say you turned something off after 10 minutes and then are able to make an informed conclusion. The movie looks really dumb but I don’t think that should be an opportunity to slam the TV show. I have them all on DVD and still love to watch them from time to time.

Randal on March 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm

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