Weekend Viewing Roundup: 21 Jump Street + Moonrise Kingdom Reviews

Happy Monday all [well Tuesday to some of you on the other side of the world]! I have to say this has been a great week for movie watching. I actually managed to see THREE new movies [well new to me] and even sneaked in a couple of older movies for a rewatch: 300 and Spider-man 2 [I guess I was in a Spidey mood]. Well, I’ve posted my review The Amazing Spider-man last night, which according to Box Office Mojo made $140 mil in six days, but believe it or not it still falls short compared to the Sam Raimi’s versions. But it’s obviously lucrative enough to warrant multiple sequels, I think a trilogy should be a given.

Now, here’s my mini reviews of the other two films I saw this weekend.

21 Jump Street

I used to watch this show in High School so the primary reason I watched this is pure nostalgia. I didn’t want to see it on the big screen as I wasn’t crazy for the main cast [Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum] but the overwhelmingly positive reviews definitely compelled me to rent it. Well, this movie had me in stitches from the start and it never let on.

The premise is simple enough. Morton Schmidt (Hill) and Greg Jenko (Tatum) are former high school foes, it’s the stereotype of the school jock bullying the nerdy academic. As fate would have it, the two ended up enrolling in the same police academy and become unlikely friends. Though at first they seems to have caught a break when they busted some drug dealers in an unassuming park, the two over-eager young officers forgot to read the Miranda right! As punishment, both are reassigned to a special division in that famous street address which turns out to be an abandoned Korean church.

The foul-mouthed Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) told them their first mission is to infiltrate a high school following a death of one of the students after consuming a potent synthetic drugs. They go undercover as brothers and live temporarily in Schmidt’s parents house. Tatum and Hill certainly have comedic chops and just seeing both of them together just makes me laugh. Despite Tatum being soo much more mature than most high schoolers, they somehow managed to blend in and make friends. An accidental switcheroo in their faux-identity puts both undercover cops in unlikely situations, Jenko hangs out with the nerdy crowds, whilst Schmidt hangs out with the cool crowd, including the lead drug dealer Eric (Dave Franco, yep James’ younger brother).

Preposterous and crazy situations are to be expected in a story like this, but hilarity ensues with every step to get to the drug supplier. One of the most hilarious moments happens when the undercover duo had to try out the drug to prove themselves to Eric. Oh my, I was in stitches through that whole scene, but I was on the floor when they arrive in prom complete with flying white doves!! Believe it or not, there are actually some sweet moments between these two, but mostly it’s just non-stop laughter and fun right up until the wild and deliberately overblown finale. Both Jenko and Schmidt did get their wish of a life filled with car chases and explosions after all!

By the way, I don’t think I consider it a spoiler to say I’ve been waiting to see Johnny Depp’s cameo and you know what, he did not disappoint! I practically screamed when I saw him and I didn’t see it coming, which adds to the experience.

Final Thoughts: What fun! Despite being too vulgar for my taste, the writing makes for a truly hilarious action-comedy. It’s similar to Hot Fuzz but perhaps more accessible to US audiences. I’m can’t say that I’m a fan of Jonah or Channing now, but I can honestly say they both are GREAT in this movie!

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels

Moonrise Kingdom

I’ve been waiting to see this one in a while (I even put it on my most-anticipated list), which is unusual as I don’t always get excited about a Wes Anderson movie. The only one I have seen before was The Royal Tennenbaums, and whilst I enjoyed that one, I can’t remember too much of the details except to say that and eccentric are the words that come to mind. It’s the same with Moonrise Kingdom, though I’d add the words endearing and delightful to describe it.

Set on an island off the coast of New England in 1965, it opens in a Khaki Scout Summer Camp on the day one of its member, Sam Shakusky, disappears from the camp. Soon they realize that a young girl from a nearby town, Suzy Bishop is also missing. Soon they discover the two had run away together and the town, led by the island police Captain Sharp goes in search of them.

Sam turns out to be an orphan whilst Suzy is not, but both Sam and Suzy feel like an outcast in their respective circle, and that’s what drew them together. The young actors, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward are so endearing in their roles, and their lack of acting experience actually adds sincerity to the romance. Their scenes together remind us the delight of what innocent young love could be. These sweet moments are peppered with some dark, poignant moments, as if to illustrate the world that would await the two twelve-year-olds as they grow older.

The adult actors seem to take a back-seat to these young lovebirds, but it doesn’t mean they don’t have their moments. Edward Norton as Sam’s Scout Master is amusingly delirious to what’s happening, and seeing the usually-serious actor as a chain-smoking boy scout leader is entertaining in its own right. Bruce Willis proves once again he’s more versatile than people give him credit for. I like him in his understated roles as much as his ‘yippikaye’ bad-assery and he’s appropriately somber in this one as he secretly longs for a family to call his own. I feel that Bill Murray wasn’t given as much to do here, he’s sort of just playing his quirky-self, but I guess that works just fine in a Wes Anderson movie. The rest of the stellar cast, including Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel and the other one of Wes’ muse Jason Schwartzman, are all good but none of them particularly stood out to me.

I guess the benefit of not having seen too much of Wes’ work is that I haven’t grown accustomed to his particular style, so everything seems fresh and fascinating to me. Even the preposterous aspects and the zany-ness of the characters all add to the charm and what makes Wes’ work so unique. There’s also that particular look to the visuals of Wes’ film, my super astute friend John outlined in this *tutorial* post…  he described Wes’ films as having “… the aged look and feel.. What I’m referring to is the yellow filter, and the slight graininess that makes you, the viewer, feel like you’re in a theatre in 1970 watching a film.” I LOVE that, I think it adds something special to the whole experience.

Final Thoughts: This is a delightful movie and it’s moving along quite efficiently at only 1 hr 34 minutes. The ending is heartwarming and sweet, but never nauseatingly so. I might rent this again when it comes out on DVD. I might even venture into Wes’ other works, such as Rushmore and Life Aquatic. Whether Wes’ style is your cup of tea or not as creativity is so subjective, I’m glad there’s still a filmmaker who marches to the beat of his own drums like him in Hollywood.

4.5 out of 5 reels

What do you think of either one of these movies? Do share your thoughts in the comments.

50 thoughts on “Weekend Viewing Roundup: 21 Jump Street + Moonrise Kingdom Reviews

  1. Ted S.

    Yup, 21 Jump Street was a lot of fun and I don’t think Depp’s cameo was a spoiler, I mean anyone who followed this movie knows that he’s going to appear in it. When they announced that the film was coming out, Jonah Hill even mentioned that Depp was going to make a cameo.

    I’ll give Moonrise Kingdom a rent, I have to be in the a certain mood to watch Wes Anderson’s film.

    1. I don’t see it as a spoiler though, we still didn’t know what part he’d be playing. I thought he’d be in Ice Cube’s character or the supplier. He..he.. yeah you do need to be in a certain mood for Wes’ film but this is perhaps his most accessible film.

  2. Moonrise Kingdom sounds great and I love the sound of that cast. I’m not Anderson’s biggest fan but this could be the film to change my opinion of him.

    1. I think the vulgarity is what kept me from truly enjoying the film to the fullest. I just don’t enjoy the foul language and the gay/bathroom humor, etc, I didn’t think it was necessary either. I think without those it could still be very funny.

  3. I’ve been dying to see Moonrise Kingdom since before it was released (I do enjoy Wes Anderson’s films) and somehow have managed to miss its run entirely over here.
    I’ve seen most of his films (excepting MK, Royal Tennenbaums and Bottle Rocket). Definitely an acquired taste, but enjoyable. I really like Darjeeling Limited.

    1. If you like Wes then I don’t think you’d be disappointed Beth! Acquired taste is right, now I’m willing to try his other movies though, esp. Rushmore. I’ll get to Darjeeling too eventually.

  4. I’m so excited to see Moonrise Kingdom!! Glad to hear you liked it.

    I loved 21 Jump St, probably my fave comedy of the year so far. I always loved Jonah Hill but Tatum moved up in my books after this movie too.

    1. I’m glad I got past my reluctance towards Hill and Tatum and give Jump Street a try, I think the writing and chemistry between the two work very well. The nostalgia factor made me like it more too I think.

  5. I’m so much looking forward to Moonrise Kingdom. Anderson is one of my personal favourites. I can’t say I’m a big fan of Tatum or Hill either and for that reason, I’ve not been overly keen on Jump St. But I’ve yet to hear a bad opinion of it. It looks like I have to give it a go. Cheers Ruth.

    1. Oh then you MUST see Moonrise Kingdom Mark, I think some people are saying it’s his best though I haven’t seen enough to agree/disagree on that note.

      I actually can’t stand those two, so I usually avoid their films but I used to watch Jump Street in high school and that Depp cameo really sold me. To be fair, Tatum/Hill combo worked to great effect here.

    1. I had Jump Street but I moved it up after reading Ruth’s review. We ~just~ got Moonrise Kingdom, I’m hoping to see it so I skipped that part. Thank you thank you for linking to the tutorial & thank you to John for writing it…good stuff!

      1. Awesome Becky and Paula!

        I didn’t have any spoiler in my MK review but yeah sometimes I’d rather read it after I see the movie. Hope you enjoy it, doll!

  6. Really glad you ejoyed these two – I really want to see Moonrise Kingdom and I loved 21 Jump street – I think Jonah Hill is one of the most hilarious actors working nowadays and Tatum wasn’t bad. Johnny Depp’s cameo was awesome and probably his best work in recent years, it was so funny and I completely didn’t spot him in his disguise.

    1. Moonrise Kingdom is delightful! I think you’ll dig it, Sati. I love that there’s still a heartwarming movie without foul language that exist out there 🙂

      I’m a bit more open-minded about Hill/Tatum now, they certainly have comedic chops. Yeah I didn’t guess Depp’s disguise either, so that was a cool surprise!

    1. Ahah yeah, Wes is definitely an acquired taste Iba. I did like The Royal Tennenbaums but haven’t seen his other work. But this one I feel is different though, it’s quirky but also heartwarming and sweet. Plus, that cast is amazing!

  7. impsndcnma

    These were two of my favorite movies this year. While tonally completely different they are both excellent comedies.

  8. NIce to read you enjoyed 21 Jump Street so much, I did as well, it was just very funny, especially the drug scene you mention (track and field bit being my favorite).

    Have not seen Moonrise Kingdom yet (and thus have not read your thoughts on it). I’m generally not a fan of Wes Anderson (only really enjoyed Fantastic Mr. Fox and Darjeeling a little). Would I enjoy this one you think?

    1. Ahah yeah, the track and field scene is a hoot! I think the roles are written perfectly for Hill and Tatum as they both fit them like a glove!

      Well, I’ve only seen The Royal Tennenbaum from Wes and I did enjoy MK so yeah, I’d say you would too. It’s quite different I think, quirky but not weird, if you know what I mean? And the story is heartfelt.

  9. I will only see 21 Jump street in TV.

    Moonrise Kingdom on the other hand really intrigued me, it has been getting great review lately. I am not sure whether it will be in Cinema or but I am sure the DVD will be out later. The grown ups actors are amazing actors that I enjoy…more reason to watch the movie. Thank you for this great review Ruth 🙂

    1. Yeah, Jump Street is only worth a rental for me, Nov. Did you watch the TV shows w/ Depp, I did and that’s why the nostalgia factor is one of the major draw for me.

      The cast for MK is awesome Nov, if you like Willis, Norton, etc. then it’s well worth seeing. I really like Bruce here, such a different role for him from his bad-ass action hero stuff.

      1. I did and I enjoyed the TV series…but the actors of the movie kind let me down…I bet you know who 😉

        I love both Willis and Norton!! I sure hope I can catch this movie and love it as much as you 🙂

        1. Oh I know Nov, that’s the reason I didn’t want to see Jump Street on the big screen. I’m not a fan of Jonah/Channing in general but they are funny in this movie, so glad I gave it a shot.

  10. Glad you enjoyed both movies Ruth! 21 Jump Street had its moments and I was surprised how good Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum were as a comedic duo.

    As for Moonrise Kingdom, I totally despised The Royal Tenenbaums but this was an utter delight to watch. Loved the dry humor and it’s such a sweet story at its heart. Everyone should this flick!

    1. Yeah, Jump Street is one of those movies I’m glad I saw despite my feelings about the cast.

      Have you seen other Wes’ movies Cas? I feel like after MK I’m more open to his other stuff now, but I did like Royal Tenenbaums quite a bit. This one is much better though, I agree.

  11. What a fun double bill this would be! Glad to hear you enjoyed both movies, Ruth. I was surprised with how funny 21 Jump Street was, though I didn’t fall in love in with it as a lot of others did. Moonrise Kingdom, on the other hand, was a real treat. One of this summer’s highlights, easily.

    1. Yeah, it was definitely a good week for movie viewing, between those two and Amazing Spiderman, I certainly cover a bunch of genres 😀 No, I didn’t exactly fall in love w/ Jump Street, but it was funnier than I expected so that’s always good. Moonrise Kingdom however, lived up to my already high expectations!

  12. My thoughts mirror yours in your comment to Castor, Ruth. After seeing MK, I am more inclined to check out more of Anderson’s films. I wasn’t too enthralled with Life Aquatic and Darjeeling Limited, so I have been leary of checking out more…but I LOVED MK so much.

    we gave it the same score! Again! Bravo to us. Spider-man, Moonrise Kingdom…what’s next for us to enjoy exactly the same?

    1. Hmmm, I was thinking of checking out Life Aquatic, I mean it’s got Cate Blanchett! But Rushmore is what I’m really curious about. It’s interesting though that one movie might change one’s mind about a certain actor/director’s work.

      He..he.. well great minds, T 😀 We already share a similar worldview so I guess I’m not too surprised.

  13. gridlockmanifesto

    LOL is always welcome when watching a movie, isn’t it? I think this was the funniest movie so far in 2012 by far, and much cleaner than a lot of the other movies, although not “Jump Street” wasn’t appropriate for my kids. I watched it with my Dish co-worker on our movie night and I’m glad he saw it on the Dish Online website. Now when I want to stream a movie rental, instead of waiting for one in the mail when I’m in-between movies, I search on Dish Online since everything is so easy to look at and decide.

    1. Yes, this was very funny but I wouldn’t call it a ‘clean’ movie, not by my standards anyway. Interesting about the Dish Online, I’ve never tried that but that’s nice to hear that it’s easy to browse.

  14. Nice reviews, Ruth. Same thing happened to me: I wasn’t eager to watch 21JS but the overwhelmingly positive response has me interested. I’ll check it out soon. About Moonrise Kingdom, it just looks so beautiful and the cast is AMAZING. I am dying to see that one.

  15. I’m still trying to rally the troops to go watch Moonrise Kingdom. At this stage I might end up going to the theater myself.
    In any case, I enjoyed both your reviews and I wholeheartedly agree with your impressions of 21 Jump Street and I even gave it the same rating. A surprise among this year’s releases.

    1. I hope you got to see Moonrise Kingdom soon Niels. It’s a short movie and it feels like a breeze. Yeah 21 Jump Street is definitely a pleasant surprise.

  16. I’m glad you got to see both. I loved Moonrise Kingdom, it’s nice to see we agree! I have 21 jump street at home, I should definitely watch it soon, I need a comedy! Great reviews!

  17. bbbgtoby

    21 Jump Street had no right to be as good as it was. I went in expecting something even worse than Fright Night and laughed all the way through. It was clever as well as funny, there aren’t many Hollywood films that can say that.

    1. Hi Toby! I haven’t seen Fright Night but I heard it’s frighteningly awful. Yes I was laughing from start to finish watching Jump Street, you’re right it’s rare to see something this hilariously entertaining lately

      1. bbbgtoby

        Just getting back on the horse slowly, first a few posts, next a few visits, soon I’ll be spending as much time on film blogs as breathing. A slippery slope.

        Don’t worry about seeing Fright NIght. It was on Foxtel recently so I thought I’d give it a go. I lasted 20 minutes I think, despite Anton Yelchin.

  18. Hello – stumbling around the movie reviewers sites and here I am, caught your post about 21 Jumpstreet. I just watched this one a couple of days ago so it is still fresh. I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet but I did enjoy it for what it is. I mean it’s clearly hardly anything like the original series and aside from the name and the idea of undercover youngster cops, that’s about it. I liked Depp’s cameo, it was fun and silly and pointless but that’s all in the fun of these kinds of movies. I just watched/reviewed Project X which is a lot like this movie, pure escapist cinema that’s going to be fun for fans of the genre, turn off people who don’t like these kinds of movies anyway, and leave a bunch right in the middle of ‘ok’ and ‘not bad’ and ‘I didn’t hate it but’. Tatum and Hill worked well together and overall they did a good job. I don’t think I’d break any speed records to watch the inevitably sequel. Solid review, looking forward to reading more. Cheers->

    1. You’re right, other than the name and premise, it’s nothing like the TV show but I like it on its own merit. Both Tatum and Hill made a great combo, who’d have thought of that? No, I’m not in super rush to watch the sequel either, probably a rental is enough for me.

  19. Kayla

    Great review on 21 Jumpstreet! I remember it being really funny too! However, I had the unfortunate experience of watching it on a flight home from a business trip for Dish, which is not the best place for vulgar comedy! I spent most of the movie stifling my laughter, so my conservative coworkers would be unaware that I thought it was hilarious! You’ve definitely motivated me to see it again ASAP, especially since it’s so easy to rent from the Blockbuster@Home service that I get through my Dish account. I’m excited to watch it again, this time without my boss sitting right next to me. LOL!

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