"21 Jump Street" was a very silly show.
Oh, I know they had their share of "very special" episodes, but the whole thing about undercover cops working the high school beat was ridiculous, and '80s TV in general was just plain crazy for the most part.
The first time Jonah Hill mentioned to me that he was going to work on a new movie version of the show, I thought he was crazy. But then he explained his take a bit, and then they hired Michael Bacall, the screenwriter for "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World," and then Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who co-directed the very funny and better-than-it-should-be "Cloudy With The Chance of Meatballs," were hired to direct the film, and then I actually read a draft of the script, and, well…
… I think "21 Jump Street" might be sort of awesome.
Deadline is reporting tonight that Channing Tatum is in negotiations to be Jonah Hill's partner in the film. That means Hill will be playing Schmidt, and Tatum will play Jenko. In the opening of the draft I read, the two of them are working undercover together and get called out by the drug dealers they're trying to bust for being too young. They're miserable because of how youthful they look, and it screws up their work. Finally, their boss gives them one last chance, assigning them to the team working out of 21 Jump Street.
The rest of the team will have to be cast, including Harry Truman Jr., a tough Latina named Lucy, Jackson Fugazy, Grady Flynn, and their captain, Captain Dicks. The script I read is absolutely R-rated, unrelentingly dirty, and it's a comedy from start-to-finish. In the film, they're assigned to one of the richest high schools in Los Angeles to track down the source of a new designer drug called "Holy F**king S**t." They go undercover as "The McQuaid Brothers," violent psychopaths who have been kicked out of six schools for various crimes.
It's a preposterous script, and there's at least a few big laughs on every page. I'm not the biggest Channing Tatum fan, but as written, the role is perfect for him, and I think he'd make a fascinating foil for Hill. We'll see if the deal closes, but right now, it sounds like he'll be reporting for duty with Hill when the film starts production in the spring.
"21 Jump Street" will arrive in theaters March 16, 2012.