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21 Jump Street: Ridiculously Fun & Hilarious Action Comedy
A purely emotional review of this film would consist of a lot of uppercase letters, a bunch of acronyms, hell yeahs, plenty of celebratory swear words and a positive slew of exclamation marks. However, we do have to be a bit more articulate than that, so here goes.
While 21 Jump Street may not be the ’best film ever’, it’s definitely the most fun we’ve had in the cinema this year – by a long shot. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum play Schmidt and Jenko; a quintessential high school nerd and dumb jock, respectively. The duo manages to get over their mutual high school hatred of each other and bond in the Police Academy where they soon become partners and best friends. Due to their youthful appearances and highly immature ways, they’re stationed as undercover policemen in a high school where a new drug is going round; one that’s already resulted in the death of a student. Their assignment is to infiltrate the dealers and find the supplier before the drug spreads to any of the other schools. On their first day undercover though, they find that high school has completely changed. Nerds are now in, dumb jocks are out and the partners find themselves navigating through completely different high school experiences than their first time around.
What makes this film so much fun to watch is that Hill and Tatum are plainly having a ton of fun onscreen. The story is basically about two dorks who, despite their training in the Police Academy, still harbour a fantasy that being a policeman involves a ton of car chases, explosions and gunfights. They’re fundamentally immature and seem to think Die Hard is an accurate portrayal of an officer’s day to day life, but their attitude is infectious and watching the film is a rather exhilarating experience. The duo play off of each other perfectly; their comedic timing is impeccable and their relationship is so cute that at times, it’s touching. The film also has a solid supporting cast with Dave Franco as an eco-friendly drug dealer, Ice Cube as a pissed-off commanding officer, and a surprise cameo that is just too awesome to spoil!
The film isn’t just a comedy though, it has some pretty sweet action sequences as well. We get car chases, explosions, fist fights and shoot-outs galore. And despite the amount of action in the film, it’s doesn’t feel superfluous in anyway; it really manages to balance the fast pace action and humour – bringing out characters that you really end up caring for and sympathising with.
In conclusion, just go see it. It’s a ton of fun and it’s worth both your time and your money.
Saddled with an overworked air of mystery that turns into vagueness and a little too much of a sullen atmosphere for its own good, Michael Petroni’s Backtrack finds one seemingly committed and haunted-looking Adrien Brody a little lost for guidance in how to bring about this effectively moody, but not at all frightening ghost-fest fiasco to light.
Set and shot in Australia, Backtrack tells the story of a troubled psychotherapist, Peter Bower (Brody sporting a relatively decent Aussie accent), who has recently moved to a new town for a fresh start with wife, Carol (Baird), after the loss of their young daughter Elvie (O’Farrell) to an incident caused by his own negligence. Unable to come to terms with her death and still very much haunted by crippling flashbacks, it takes some time for Peter to realise that a large portion of his most recent clientele – who all seem to be believe it’s 1987 - are actually ghosts, including one spooky-looking young girl named Elizabeth Valentine.
Unsure whether what he is seeing is real or if he’s having some sort of a mental breakdown, Peter decides to seek advice from friend and fellow therapist, Duncan Stewart (Neill wasted in his role), who thinks that there is a connection between his own personal tragedy and his latest array of patients, especially young Elizabeth, forcing him to go back to his hometown and investigate the repeated reference to 1987.
While the presence of the committed and reliable Oscar-winner, Adrien Brody, adds a note of credibility to proceedings, there is still a deep lack of complexity and originality in Michael Petroni’s derivative script which, unlike Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense which clearly is the main source of ‘inspiration’ here, seems to favour the style-over-substance approach. Predictability and familiarity are also plaguing factors and the fact that the audience can probably work out where the story is headed long before its leading man, doesn’t really leave Backtrack with enough storytelling power to pull itself out of the mess.
In the end, it’s relatively safe to say that Petroni’s second feature film – see 2003’s Till Human Voices Wake Us - leaves a lot to be desired. There is a decent idea in there somewhere and the air of intensity is somewhat effective, but what might have sounded good on paper doesn’t really necessarily translate on the screen. It's as if the film tries so hard to set the mood, that it forgets that in needs the occasional pop.
Pretty Woman director, Garry Marshall, returns to the big screen with the star-studded but helplessly formulaic ensemble comedy that is Mother’s Day; a mindless and unintelligent onscreen debacle which ends up delivering its uninvolving and forced storylines with a heavy-handed serving of cheep and cheesy sentimentality.
Meet Sandy (Aniston); a happily divorced housewife and mother of two whose ex-husband Henry (Olyphant) suddenly announces his marriage to young bombshell Tina (Pretty Little Liars’ Shay Mitchell). Her friend, Jesse (Hudson), is married to Russell (Mandvi); a man of Indian origin whom she has a son with but, hasn’t yet told her parents - Flo (Martindale) and Earl (Pine) - whose Texan roots and conservative nature doesn't sit well with their union. Her sister Gabi (Chalke), meanwhile, is in the same boat, with her marriage to Max (Esposito) – who happens to be a woman – also something that might not go down very well .
Meanwhile, Bradley (Sudeikis) - a widower whose marine wife (Jennifer Garner in an excruciatingly syrupy karaoke singing cameo) was recently killed in combat - is trying his best raising their two daughters, who are at the gates of puberty.Then there’s Kristin (Robertson); a young mom who is not sure whether she can commit to the father of her child, Zack (Whitehall), and finally, there’s Julia Roberts – and her wig - in the role of Miranda; a multi-million dollar shopping network mogul who's seemingly been shoe-horned into the plot.
Although Garry Marshall’s recent, similar efforts with Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve have been almost unanimously panned by critics, one must say that even though they’re far from what you might call award-winning cinematic achievements, there’s always a comforting sense of predictability and familiarity.
Mother’s Day, however, overworks its interconnecting plot whilst trying to juggle far too many characters at the same time, without so much as pausing for affect. The jokes are painfully weak and sometimes even quite offensive, while all of the conflicts – if you can even call them that – are resolved far too easily to matter.
The only performance worth mentioning is that of Aniston, who manages to sustain a level of charm and likability for most of the story, whilst Roberts’ Ana Wintour-type wig remains as one of the film’s biggest highlights in a what-the-hell-was-she-thinking kind of way.
Sappy, disengaging, unrewarding and ultimately lifeless, Mother’s Day takes the occasion-based ensemble rom-com idea into territories that it may never recover from. Who knows what day they’ll tie into a film next – Halloween? Easter? How about Martin Luther King Day? Enough’s enough.