In an interview with ComingSoon.net, Jonah Hill revealed a little bit about the upcoming feature film adaptation of the classic teen-oriented police drama 21 Jump Street. In case you didn’t know, the show aired on FOX from 1987 through 1991 and revolved around a group of fresh-faced cops who went undercover at high schools and on street corners to snuff out criminal activity involving youths. Today, the show is perhaps most renowned for launching the career of its leading man, Johnny Depp.
In addition to starring in the reboot, Hill will also serve as the executive producer. In the interview, he says that shooting will likely begin this year and confirms that Phil Lord and Chris Miller, helmers of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, will direct. Here’s what the star/producer had to say about his directors: “They are incredible. Their take on the movie is incredible… It’s about cops who go back to high school. Young rookie cops who go back to high school. I think that’s a real interesting idea as opposed to saying, that’s not what happened in the show so it can’t happen in the movie.”
Hit the jump to find out from Hill whether we’re in store for a Starsky and Hutch- or Miami Vice-type reimagining.
Based on this comment, it’s looking like it’ll be somewhere in between (but probably closer to Starsky and Hutch):
“[Audiences are] not expecting what it’s going to be. It’s not a parody of the show. I’m not playing Johnny Depp’s character… I’m not saying I’m Johnny Depp. I’m not playing his character. It’s a group of people that go back to high school to deal with a drug problem. To deal with crime in high school. I really love the “Back to the Future” moment of that where it’s getting to relive a certain period of your life… It’s a comedy with really cool action. We’re not doing something serious like ‘Miami Vice.’ But it’s not a parody. It’s a funny movie with a lot of great action and a real story. I’ve been saying that it’s like a John Hughes movie with ‘Bad Boys’ style action.”
Even though he emphasizes that it’s not a parody, Hill and co. are likely to receive some flack from die-hard fans for the comedy aspect. However, the concept of the show is a bit too ’80’s for them to do anything else with it.
As for the overall game plan, it’s…ambitious; we’ll see how it works out. A cross between John Hughes and Michael Bay doesn’t exactly seem like an easy balance to strike. Hill assures us that he “wouldn’t make it if it wouldn’t be awesome,” but while I don’t doubt his sincerity, I’ve been burned by promises from an overly enthusiastic actor-producer before (yes, Hugh Jackman, I’m talking about you). Nonetheless, even if they can’t totally nail what they’re going for, this one could still have the makings of a decent action-comedy.
Finally, if you’d like a little taste of the source material (as well as an appreciation for just how far Johnny Depp has come in the last two decades), take a look at the opening credit sequence from the first season of 21 Jump Street embedded below; as you watch, try to keep in mind that the show itself was a bit edgier than the clip might imply. Also, keep an eye on Peter DeLuise and imagine Jonah Hill rocking that mullet and earring…it’s really a shame this thing isn’t a straight-up parody.
It doesn’t sound all that different from the show, but I suppose, if nothing else, we can derive from this that the film will focus on a single high school and the situations that arise from trying to infiltrate it, as opposed to the much broader territory that the characters operated within on the show.
[The image at the top of this article comes from a series of photographs Hill did for Complex magazine. They were taken by Chris McPherson and you can see the whole gallery here]