The act of taking past TV shows with any semblance of name value and updating them for the big screen has become so commonplace these days that it barely makes any impression at all on audiences who have been ground into submission. Of course, in actuality it is but a flimsy excuse for Hollywood studios to steal old, identifiable, potentially lucrative brands in lieu of having to think of original ideas, and "21 Jump Street" deserves credit for openly acknowledging this in an early scene that acerbically comments on its own derivativeness. A comedic, hard-R take on the 1980s one-hour drama that made a name for Johnny Depp, the film stars the game pairing of Channing Tatum (2012's "The Vow") and a slimmed-down Jonah Hill (2011's "The Sitter") as an odd couple of youthful-looking police officers going undercover as high school students to infiltrate a drug ring. Shades of 1999's "Never Been Kissed" follow as the guys get to relive their teen experiences with starkly different results, realizing along the way that they have grown into better people no longer chained to the scars of their adolescence. None of it rewrites genre rules or moves beyond the predictable, but directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (2009's "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs") enlighten the proceedings with frequently perverse high energy and a dab of sweetness.
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