Jonah Hill, whom I’m sure you all know from his spots in almost every comedy released over the last couple of years, certainly all of the Judd Apatow comedies, was attached to write and produce a film adaptation of Johnny Depp’s tv series 21 Jump Street almost a year ago. Since that time, things have been quiet. Series fanatics have spent that time flooding the web and bashing the project and Hill himself, in fear that the beloved drama would turn into nothing more than a low-brow comedy. Those fears seemed to be justified, as that seems to be Hill’s forte, until today. In an interview with Complex, Hill seemingly put those fears to rest, announcing for the first time what he really wants to do with the film adaptation of the series that exposed the world to the elite talent of Johnny Depp.
“We’re not even spoofing the movie. It’s not strictly comedic, either. We’re doing a full-on action movie, blowing shit up. (Sony execs said) they were gonna let me make my kind of movie—an R-rated, insane, Bad-Boys-meets-John Hughes-type movie—and I told them the second they don’t, I’m not gonna be involved anymore.”
I’ll come right out and say that I’m not the biggest fan of the original series, but I’ve seen enough episodes of the original to know that Jonah Hill has a great idea on his hands here. I’m very excited about this project. The whole idea about going Bad Boys with a touch of John Hughes is a great concept. Now, the big thing to address here is the comedy aspect that is completely unavoidable with Hill attached to the project. I love serious dramas, and hardcore action films, but there is nothing better than a drama or action film that adds a touch of humor to lighten the mood. Jonah Hill has a recipe for success here.
There are still some very serious questions and concerns to be addressed here. First and foremost is Hill’s screenwriting ability. I can’t attest to anything; as far as I know this would be his first attempt at writing a Hollywood action film. Unfortunately there isn’t much we can do except to wait for the first trailer before we make any sort of judgement on that front. Secondly, and potentially more serious depending on who you talk to, is Hill’s involvement in the project as a member of the cast. Yes, I am a Jonah Hill fan, but I don’t want to see him star in this film. He needs to focus his attention on making a great film. Starring in the project will only serve to distract him. However, I am open to the idea of giving him a brief cameo. Perhaps he could be a perp busted by Officer Tom Hanson before he joins the elite squad of under-cover detectives? Indecent Exposure? Sounds like a fit to me!
Whatever ends up happening with this movie is anyone’s guess, but at the moment, I’m very intrigued. The most important thing here is for Jonah Hill and Sony to stay focused on keeping this film as close to the afore-mentioned concept as possible. Maybe they could find a place for a brief cameo by the original series star Johnny Depp. Just as long as they don’t make Depp’s cameo as lame as cameos by other stars of tv series that were turned into full length feature films like The Dukes of Hazzard or Starsky and Hutch. There have been a lot of old television series turned into films lately, and none of them have been very good. But 21 Jump Street is starting off on the right foot with a great idea, and it has possibilities. Right now, there’s not much more we can ask for than that.