Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum Let the Laughs (and Bullets) Fly in <i>21 Jump Street</i>

It's understandable that the thought of a 21 Jump Street movie sounds like the height of Hollywood creative bankruptcy. But stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum made it their mission to produce a Jump Street film that's not just a wan carbon copy of the original '80s cop series that's best known for launching the careers of Johnny Depp and... um, Richard Grieco. Audiences will find out for themselves on Friday whether they succeeded in that endeavor. Prior to the film's release, Hill and Tatum turned up at a New York press conference (clad in their cop uniforms from the movie no less) and talked about the origins of the project, their on-screen chemistry and what other '80s series they'd like to remake.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, March 20, 2012

by Ethan Alter March 20, 2012 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's time to start the music. Again.

21 Jump Street: Hey, It’s Better Than Dragnet!

by Ethan Alter March 16, 2012 6:00 am
<i>21 Jump Street</i>: Hey, It’s Better Than <i>Dragnet</I>!

Stop me if you've heard this one already: roughly two decades after a popular cop series has gone off the air, Hollywood gets the bright idea to remake it as a big-screen vehicle for two young, likeable stars (one of whom also writes the screenplay), which puts a decidedly comic spin on what used to be a straightforward procedural. At the same time, they also make sure to include a number of shout-outs to the source material in the form of visual gags, recycled sets and cameos from some of the stars of the original show. No, I'm not talking about the new version of that '80s chestnut 21 Jump Street that's arriving in theaters today, starring the unlikely duo of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. I'm referring to Dragnet, the 1987 Dan Aykroyd/Tom Hanks update of Jack Webb's iconic show, which aired from 1951-1959 and again from 1967-1970. (There were two later revivals as well, but neither of those starred Webb.) It's somehow fortuitous that Dragnet is celebrating its 25th anniversary the same year that 21 Jump Street arrives in theaters, because the two movies really do have a lot in common, except for one key thing... Jump Street is actually really funny. So why did this one succeed where its predecessor failed? We examine the evidence:

Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller Take a Stroll Down <i>Jump Street</i>

Helming a big-screen version of an old TV series may not seem like the most auspicious beginning to a live-action filmmaking career, but Phil Lord and Chris Miller were determined to make a 21 Jump Street movie that was more than a pale imitation of the campy '80s cop series. They've had some success adapting unlikely source material before; their previous movie was the 2009 animated feature Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, a clever take on the classic children's story that wasn't afraid to depart from the text when it served the film. And while 21 Jump Street has some subtle -- and not so subtle -- homages to the source material, it definitely stands apart as its own (very funny) movie. Lord and Miller spoke with us about their transition from animation to live action filmmaking, why 21 Jump Street had to be R-rated and what jokes eagle-eyed viewers should look for in the background.

Rob Riggle Jumps Aboard 21 Jump Street

by Ethan Alter March 13, 2012 12:12 pm
Rob Riggle Jumps Aboard <i>21 Jump Street</i>

In an alternate universe, Rob Riggle may have become a pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps. In this version of Earth though, the Kentucky-born Riggle enlisted with the Marines in 1990 only to leave the corps not long after to pursue a career in comedy (he's still a Lieutenant Colonel in the Reserve). It took about a decade, but that career move has paid off. A tour of duty with New York's Upright Citizens Brigade led to guest spots on shows like The Office followed by a high-profile stint as a Daily Show correspondent. These days, Riggle is an established scene-stealer on film and television, popping up in everything from Tina Fey's 30 Rock to Tom Hanks's Larry Crowne. This weekend, Riggle has a small, but crucial turn in 21 Jump Street, playing a kooky gym teacher named Mr. Walters, who crosses paths with two undercover cops-turned-high school students (Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum) investigating a student-run drug ring. Riggle spoke to us about impersonating a gym teacher, his sketch comedy background and why going to UCB was like attending graduate school.

The Sitter: We’ll Stick with Adventures in Babysitting

by Ethan Alter December 9, 2011 6:00 am
<i>The Sitter</i>: We’ll Stick with <I>Adventures in Babysitting</i>

Considering Hollywood's current obsession with remaking every single movie released during the '80s, it's surprising that Adventures in Babysitting -- a nostalgic favorite for anyone that grew up in that decade -- hasn't already been updated into a star vehicle for some tween sensation like Selena Gomez or Miranda Cosgrove. (Word on the web is that Raven-Symoné was attached to a potential remake at one point, but that project is currently on hold.) Now those girls are going to have to find another Me Decade reboot to star in (the rights to Valley Girl and Flashdance may be available...) because the unlikely duo of director David Gordon Green and star Jonah Hill have gone ahead and made their version of Chris Columbus's 1987 after-hours comedy under the more generic title, The Sitter. Granted, this off-brand remake is a hard R-rated comedy whereas Adventures in Babysitting falls into kinder, gentler PG-13 territory, but otherwise the two movies have more in common than you might imagine, right down to the sequence in which the respective sitters drag the three tykes in their care to a potentially dangerous downtown nightclub where they're distinctly out of place.

Moneyball: How to Succeed In Baseball Without Really Trying

by Ethan Alter September 23, 2011 6:00 am
<i>Moneyball</i>: How to Succeed In Baseball Without Really Trying

One of the perils that comes with this gig is that there are times where I walk into a theater armed with too much knowledge about what went down behind-the-scenes on the movie I'm about to see. Take Moneyball, for instance. This adaptation of Michael Lewis' best-selling baseball book -- which covered a season in the life (specifically the 2002 season) of the Oakland A's and their eccentric, wily GM Billy Beane -- has been on my radar since 2008, when one of my favorite directors, Steven Soderbergh, came onboard to shepherd the project to the big screen. As is often the case with Soderbergh, he had developed a fascinating angle he intended to bring to the proceedings, embellishing the central narrative with documentary segments featuring real-life ballplayers and casting actual members of that 2002 A's squad (including David Justice and Scott Hatteberg) as themselves in the dramatic scenes. This approach excited me, but unnerved the studio, which shut down the film just as shooting was going to start in earnest. Soderbergh quickly departed the project and Capote director Bennett Miller was eventually recruited to replace him.

Applied Sabermetrics 101: The Curious Case of Moneyball

by Ethan Alter September 21, 2011 4:51 pm
Applied Sabermetrics 101: The Curious Case of <i>Moneyball</i>

After checking out the movie version of Moneyball earlier this week, we were so inspired by Oakland A's GM Billy Beane's innovative use of "sabermetrics" in building his record-setting 2002 team, we wanted to apply the same close statistical analysis to how the film that's opening in theaters on Friday came together following a few false starts. Originally set to be directed by The Devil Wears Prada's David Frankel, Steven Soderbergh took over the director's chair in 2008 and cast Demetri Martin opposite Brad Pitt's Beane. The following year, Sony Pictures halted production just before the cameras were set to roll and shuffled the deck another time, replacing Soderbergh with Bennett Miller, Martin with Jonah Hill and bringing in screenwriter Aaron Sorkin to punch up a script credited to Steve Zaillian and Stan Chervin. How will these various moves impact the movie's box-office performance? Let's check the stats.

<i>This is the End</i>: Seeking Six Friends For the End of the World

It's not a spoiler to say that the world really is ending in the all-star comedy This is the End. This isn't an artificial apocalypse or a meta mega-disaster designed to complement the movie's already-heightened level of reality that comes with its cast -- including Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride -- playing themselves (albeit slightly tweaked versions of themselves) rather than fictional characters. The film, which Rogen wrote and directed his longtime creative partner Evan Goldberg, takes the end of days seriously... so seriously that the level of violence (to say nothing of the body count) is higher than you might expect for a warm weather comedy. Fortunately, much of what's unfolding in the shadow of the apocalypse is also seriously funny, so even though the world as we know it is over, it's ending with laughter rather than a whimper.

The Watch: Don’t Buy in Bulk

by Kaitlin Reilly July 27, 2012 6:00 am
<i>The Watch</i>: Don’t Buy in Bulk

On occasion, Ben Stiller decides to join forces with a few other comedians and make a buddy comedy. While this was fun during his Dodgeball days, lately the best we've seen from this particular branch of Stiller comedy has been Tower Heist (not saying too much there). The Watch is essentially like any other of Stiller's subpar group ventures, only now a few aliens are thrown into the mix. It's kind of a mess, but if you love Costco, you'll be pretty okay with it all.

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