When it was first announced shortly after the tremendous success of Superbad that star Jonah Hill was interested in developing a feature film version of 21 Jump Street, the news met with some online incredulity. Hill, only three years old when the crime drama first debuted, didn’t seem like the most likely choice to follow in the footsteps of Johnny Depp, who launched his stardom as the undercover cop Tom Hanson on the Fox series. Add to the project the directing pair of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the team behind Cloudly with a Chance of Meatballs and the creators of “Clone High,” and the creative angle for next year’s Sony Pictures release is decidedly offbeat.
Thankfully, as was revealed to ComingSoon.net on a recent visit to the New Orleans set, the cast and crew involved with the project are well aware that what they’re making isn’t the same “21 Jump Street” that hit the airwaves two decades ago, but it’s not entirely a parody either. Though it’s meant to play as an R-rated action comedy, 21 Jump Street will blend the unique talents of all involved into something all its own, including a few nods to fans of the original show.
“I never thought of myself as someone who was going to remake a TV show or anything like that,” explained an incredibly slimmed-down Hill, “Particularly when it was something that I wasn’t a real massive fan of. But what I did like was that thought that it would be really cool to re-live high school, thinking that you would get it right this time and having all the answers and then immediately reverting back to all the insecurities that you had the first time… That is the story that I wanted to be involved in.”
Jumping off from the basic premise of the series, the film features Hill opposite Channing Tatum as two police officers, Schmidt and Jenko, who go undercover at a local high school to stop the spread of a new drug nicknamed HFS (standing for Holy F–ing S–t). While Hill’s Schmidt had a terrible time in high school and Tatum’s Jenko a great one, both characters quickly find that high school isn’t something that gets easier with practice.
Subverting the stereotype of a lot of high school movies, the film’s cool clique, lead by a kid named Eric (Dave Franco), isn’t composed of football players and cheerleaders, but instead of laid-back hipsters, eco-friendly activists and polyamorous sexual partners.
Full details of our visit, which took place at Jefferson, Louisiana’s Riverdale High School in the final week of shooting, have to be held off until closer to the film’s March 16th release, but we’ll have full interviews with Hill, Tatum, Lord, Miller and Franco as well as Brie Larson and producer Neal Mortiz, who worked closely with the late Stephen J. Cannell, co-creator of the original series, to bring 21 Jump Street to the big screen. In the meantime, check out the first official image from the film, featuring Hill and Tatum in action. You can view a bigger version of the photo by clicking here!