Friday, April 6, 2012

Movies: 21 Jump St & Jeff Who Lives at Home

21 Jump St was announced to the nauseated jeering of everyone who remembers the existence of the original TV show starring some heartthrob guys.  I never gave a shit about the show but joined in the jeering because--because fuck Hollywood for its lack of vision, for its unwillingness to take risks on actual creativity, for recycling crap we'd all be better off leaving in the garbage dump of culture.  21 Jump St was a bad show.  Why make a movie?

Then you have Jonah Hill, the toad-like fat guy who strangely gets uglier as he gets skinnier, who is always unpleasant on the screen.  Channing Tatum I knew little about, other than him appearing in movies requiring beefcake onscreen for gay men to swoon over.  (Oh, and I'd like to punch out his first name.  Parents who give their kids a last name for a first name should be jailed.)  Channing Tatum just seemed like another faceless "good looking" actor.  Dime a dozen.

Goddamn if the movie isn't really funny though.  Skinny-fat-ass plays the guy who in high school got the good grades but failed with the gals and the cool kids.  Beefcake was a big jock, of course.  They become cops who team up because their skills complement each other, blah blah.  They go to high school to bust some kind of drug thing and their social roles become reversed to comic effect.   Jonah Hill gets a romantic interest which creeped me out because dude is so visually unappealing.  The cute chick is defiled when he kisses her.  I digress.

The real winners here are Beefcake and James Franco's little brother, who has a breakout role as a high school cool-kid.  I don't know his name.  Beefcake has some real comic skill.  Though you sense his intelligence, he pulls off the role of total dipshit pretty effectively.  Will Ferrell, by comparison, fails miserably at comedy because his characters are all aware they are funny.  You know, all that wink-wink nudge-nudge bullshit.  Anyway, I look forward to seeing Channing Tatum (pisses me off just to type that name) in some more comedies.  Properly deployed, he's good.

Jeff Who Lives at Home is a movie about as ambitious as its title character, a shiftless dopesmoker living in his mom's basement.  He lives according to random stuff that he perceives as signals from "the universe."  Sent out to buy some glue to fix a cabinet, Jeff (Jason Seagull) gets sidetracked by the universe and winds up having some random adventures.  He meets up with his brother, a total asshole played by Ed Helms from the flick Cedar Rapids, and they bitch at each other and run around in circles.  Susan Sarandon is their mom, in a mostly superfluous role that gives the movie the opportunity to have Susan Sarandon in it, but I'm not sure what else.

It's a likable enough movie with a handful of laughs, but it isn't really about anything.  The only character arc I could detect was the Ed Helms character, who learns he's an asshole and is sorta redeemed at the end.  Jeff and his mom are nice people but uninteresting.  They don't learn anything, they don't change, there is no conflict other than dude being lazy and his mom getting on his case, but only a little bit.  What is there to recommend here?  Not much.  It isn't bad, just kind of pointless.

This flick was made by the Duplass bros who recently made Cyrus, which, by god, starred skinny-fat-ass himself, but in much fatter shape.  That one was a lot funnier and edgier than Jeff Who Lives at Home.  Jeff seems to have been made so, uhh, they could make something, uhh, dramatic.  Or something.

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