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Hammerle On … '22 Jump Street,' 'The Grand Seduction'

Robert Hammerle
July 2, 2014
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“22 Jump Street”

The only reason I bought a ticket for “22 Jump Street” was to find out why this movie was such a box office hit. And if I had followed my repeated instincts to walk out during the first three-quarters of the film, I still wouldn’t know. However, I was cursed with my commitment to see all films through to their ending.

And it’s fortunate that I did, as the last quarter of the film involves some very funny moments, and it completely saves the whole experience. Without it, there is little that is creative or enjoyable. Think of living in Indianapolis and supporting a cricket stadium while opposing a raise in the minimum wage.

As you know, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill play two police officers – Schmidt and Jenko, respectively, who are now assigned to impersonate college students as they investigate a new drug appearing at a college campus. Our boys are as dull as they are sanctimonious, and their interaction is brutally insipid. The film treats them like two of the Marx brothers, and they would be better cast as the human recreation of the Tom & Jerry cartoon characters.

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On top of that, Ice Cube once again plays a one-dimensional police captain in charge of our lads, and he is good at profanity and little else.

Schmidt becomes repeatedly jealous of Jenko’s acceptance by a local fraternity as well as a star position on the football team, and he pouts like a school girl jealous of her boyfriend’s other interests. Schmidt and Jenko look like petulant teenagers.

Mercifully, the ending literally pulled “22 Jump Street” out of cinematic quicksand. As our boys miraculously avoided being shot to death by armed gangsters, a hysterical sequence occurs when Schmidt physically confronts a villainous female student. Played by Jillian Bell, she produces a laugh with every line. For example, as she sought to club Schmidt senseless, she would suddenly stop and accuse him of trying to kiss her. When he viciously hits her in the face knocking her to the ground, jumping on her to choke her, she responds with the accusation that he was trying to have sex with her. Now that was funny.

Finally, without giving away an ending that you all can predict, you have to watch the outtakes with the closing credits. Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller continually show future imagined sequels to Jump Street, picking out numbers from 23 to infinity. We see our boys working undercover at a veterinary school, a medical school, a dance school, and then as old men in a retirement home. You couldn’t help but leave the theater thinking that you had actually watched a good film. You knew you were wrong, but you didn’t really care.

“The Grand Seduction”

It is unfortunate that “The Grand Seduction” dealt with a premise that has played quite well in the past. Here we have a small fishing village located in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where nearly everyone is unemployed. Living on welfare and lost pride, they need to lure a doctor to their town in order to land an oil company toying with the idea of building a factory.

Similar themes worked well on TV from 1990-1995 with “Northern Exposure,” and resulted in a delightful little film starring Michael J. Fox in “Doc Hollywood” (1991). But the folks conning Fox’s Dr. Benjamin Stone did not consider selfishness to be a virtue.

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Sadly, the film also suffered from the fact that most members of the town were elderly gentlemen who spent their welfare checks downing whiskey in bars. Regretting their lost opportunities on the sea, they suddenly found the possibility of hope when a young medic by the name of Dr. Lewis was assigned to spend 30 days in their town.

It almost appeared that the town was completely devoid of children and young women. The only attractive woman of any note was Kathleen (Liane Balaban) who stayed sane for unknown reasons. Our conniving group of lugs wanted her to serve as bait for Dr. Lewis, but she proved to be the only resident with a sense of honor.

Where the movie also lost its footing was with the performance of Taylor Kitsch as Dr. Lewis. It seems that he was stopped at an airport for possession of cocaine when returning to the States following a vacation, and Tickle Cove was his punishment. On top of that, Dr. Lewis was devoid of any common sense.

What really hurts the most about criticizing this film was the fact that it starred the wonderful Brendan Gleeson as Murray French, the heavily bearded, whiskey-swilling leader of Tickle Cove’s residents. Having relished his fabulous performance as an Irish police officer in “The Guard” (2011), I couldn’t help but feel that he would emulate that role here. However, he was a con man, nothing more and nothing less. And it was terribly upsetting how he organized two local women to secretly record all of the doctor’s phone calls when he called home to converse with a distant fiancée.

More to the point, if you want to watch a similar film that will completely capture your heart, then go see one of the great films ever made, “Local Hero” (1983). Though the scenery in “The Grand Seduction” is appealing, the cinematography in “Local Hero” was magical.

It involves ubiquitous locals who love to have a good time, a beautiful beach combing woman with webbed feet and a fantastic married couple running the local hotel who can’t resist having sex.

See “The Guard” and “Local Hero” and leave “The Grand Seduction” on the shelf.•

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Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or working diligently in his Pennsylvania Street office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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