Neil Fox on film: 21 Jump Street, Contraband, The Devil Inside, We Bought A Zoo
21 Jump Street
Well colour me corrected. To say I wasn’t excited about this film is an understatement, but I am happily proved wrong and I never mind admitting when I am. Well. Sometimes.
This remake of the cult 1980s TV show that launched the career of one Jonathan Depp looked like another case of Hollywood flogging expired equines, but instead they have conjured a smart, entertaining and brilliantly funny film.
Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are young cops in need of a big case to finally prove their worth. Instead they are sent back to high school to infiltrate a drug ring.
Like the Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg guffaw-fest that was The Other Guys, the film deals with underachieving cops looking to make a dent.
Like that film the script is tight and genuinely funny and the chemistry and performances are brilliant. Also the appearance of Ice Cube as their captain is as welcome and rewarding as Michael Keaton’s turn in The Other Guys.
A really funny film and really enjoyable Hollywood entertainment.
I eulogise about the Mark Wahlberg-starring The Other Guys in the review above, and the underrated star turns up here, albeit in a lesser work none too deserving of his talent.
It’s a straight-up pulpy action movie, which lacks the required intrigue of character to really work.
Wahlberg is a smuggler who comes out of ‘retirement’ to help his brother-in-law out of a scrape down in Panama. It’s got some nice moments but overall it lacks conviction in its simplicity and just feels hollow as a result, making the violence seem unnecessarily exploitative.
The Devil Inside
One of the scariest trailers of recent years is about as misleading as it gets for this truly awful piece of found footage horror schlock.
The story of a young woman investigating the rife demon possession in her family history is so full of cliché and lack of care, style or craft that it becomes laughable and horribly predictable, rather than the horribly scary film it could be or the trailer suggests. Woeful.
We Bought A Zoo
This is the cinematic manifestation of Cameron Crowe coming out from behind a curtain sheepishly asking if we have forgiven him for Elizabethtown.
We have Cam, but only just, and that’s little to do with this and more to do with Say Anything, Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous.
Matt Damon is great as ever in the role of a father who moves his family out to the countryside to rebuild the fortunes of a failing zoo.
Around him are the likes of Thomas Haden Church and Scarlett Johansson so Crowe clearly hasn’t lost his touch in attracting quality.
The film is a sweet and enjoyable dramedy that touches the usual touchstones of love, family and adventure associated with Crowe’s best work, but it’s a tad safe and saccharine.
Welcome back though CC, but next time stretch yourself a bit more, you are forgiven for Elizabethtown.