So far, I’ve revisited films that for some reason didn’t connect with me in the past, which meant beginning with Will Ferrell, a guy whose definition of comedy is so broad that he makes Jim Carrey look like Bob Newhart. I began by rewatching Anchorman which previously hadn’t clicked but I have now come to love enough to have seen it three or four times. I watched Step Brothers and found it enjoyably loud and vulgar but perhaps not quite as good. The Campaign was better than both yet terribly underrated as a savage political satire. Then I moved beyond Farrell to other films in the genre. Get Smart is loveable fun. Horrible Bosses I’d seen before but I watched again and really enjoyed. I even went to the trouble of seeing the very recent We’re the Millers which was surprisingly good in its totally brash and vulgar way.
Last night, however, it was the turn of 21 Jump Street and this morning I’m wondering how the hell I managed to make it through to the close. Had I not been drawing cartoons as I watched it, I might have turned it off because it was a real struggle. Apparently it’s a remake of an American TV show I’ve never seen but is famous for being an early vehicle for Johnny Depp. I doubt if the show was anything like the movie.
I’d seen Jonah Hill in the brilliant Moneyball and apparently he was in Evan Almighty though I don’t remember it enough to say if he was good. I haven’t seen Superbad, which is apparently the film to see if you want to become a Jonah Hill fan but, after last night, I can definitely say that’s the last thing I want to become. I enjoy purile humour. I enjoy offensive humour. I even enjoy downright bad humour if done the right way. Tonight I intend to tackle the modern Three Stooges just to see Larry David dressed as a nun. Even if it’s bad, I hope it’s bad in a good Farrelly brothers way. The only criticism I’ve ever had about the Farrelly brothers is that they try to rationalise their sick humour with sentimentality and a tendency to preach about the very issues they mock.
None of which explains 21 Jump Street which currently has a 7.1 score on the IMDB. I’m clearly in the minority who really hated this film and that just confuses me. Are there that many people in the world who enjoy the Roy Chubby Brown approach to comedy? It’s that comedy which substitutes wit for vulgarity. ‘Why did the chicken cross the road? Obviously to get to the f***ing other side you c***!’
21 Jump Street set up situations in which a half decent comedy writer could inject plenty of good one liners. Yet facing down some bikers, the two rookie cops enter into a typical exchange:
Jenko: Hey! You want me to beat your dick off?
Domingo: You want to beat my dick off?
Jenko: I'll beat your dick off with both hands. What's up? Let's go.
One-Percenter #1: That's weird, man!
Schmidt: I think what he was trying to say was, he's gonna punch you so many times round the genital area that...that your dick's just gonna fall off.
I suppose it takes all sorts to make the world and I should just move on, except that's hardly edifying, especially when I also note that whilst 22 Jump Street is due out next year, there’s still no word on a sequel to the best horror comedy of the past decade, Tucker & Dale vs Evil, the best science fiction film, Dredd, or the best thriller, Steven Soderbergh brilliantly subdued Haywire.