The movie version of 21 Jump Street seems like an absurd thing at face value. But take Jonah Hill as one lead with a script by Scott Pilgrim co-writer Michael Bacall and direction from Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who did such a good job with Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and I can’t quite resist. (And Emma Stone might be a part of this, too.) What if Channing Tatum was the other lead? Would that break the spell all the other key creators might weave? No, probably not.

Drew at HitFix has read the script and clarifies that Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum would likely be characters named Jenko and Schmidt, respectively. As Drew says, “In the opening of the draft I read, the two of them are working undercover together and get called out by the drug dealers they’re trying to bust for being too young.  They’re miserable because of how youthful they look, and it screws up their work.  Finally, their boss gives them one last chance, assigning them to the team working out of 21 Jump Street.”

The script sounds as if it is very much in the same spirit as Superbad and Pineapple Express: definitely R-rated, absolutely a comedy. And, as Drew calls it, ‘preposterous,’ which totally jibes with how a few other people have described the script to me. It’s also in line with what Jonah Hill has said about it, which was,

It’s a group of people that go back to high school to deal with a drug problem…It’s a comedy with really cool action. We’re not doing something serious like ‘Miami Vice.’ But it’s not a parody. It’s a funny movie with a lot of great action and a real story. I’ve been saying that it’s like a John Hughes movie with ‘Bad Boys’ style action.

All of these things point to exactly what this movie needs if it is going to be more than a weird joke. Crucially, real action and (more important) real comedy. The idea of pushing this from TV to film at all doesn’t make much sense, because aside from being an early vehicle for Johnny Depp, there’s little reason to canonize the original show. But if you’re going to do it, Channing Tatum might actually be one of the best choices to pair up against Jonah Hill. [Deadline]

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