Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'22 Jump Street' Reunites Hill, Tatum as Cop Buddies

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'22 Jump Street' Reunites Hill, Tatum as Cop Buddies

Article excerpt

"There's only one thing more dangerous than making them mad: Making them partners ..."

The situation is as follows: You're on a quiz show. The category is "Cop-Buddy Movies." All you have to do to win $350 million is to know what film - and which immortal duo - the above marketing slogan refers to.

No, it's not so easy. The cop-buddy genre is, after all, one of the most popular and resilient in American films. The list of characters and films built on odd-couple casting and mismatched marriages of law-enforcement personnel constitutes a virtual pandemic.

The formulae have manifested themselves in every imaginable permutation - white-white, black-black, black-white, white-Asian, black-Asian, hipster-doofus, hipster-hipster, human-alien, human- canine and in one case female-female ("The Heat"). It is a cultural phenomenon. And it will be perpetrated further this Friday when "22 Jump Street" opens in theaters.

The original Fox TV series "21 Jump Street" introduced Johnny Depp and aired from 1987 to '91. It only became a buddy movie in 2012, when, in the movie of the same name, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum were teamed as the underachieving detectives Schmidt and Jenko, who are sent back to high school as counterfeit teenagers assigned to breaking up a drug ring.

In "22 Jump Street," they're off to college, admission standards having plummeted, and will again impersonate students in order to squash a new drug epidemic, and to give directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller an excuse to include spring break, debauchery, beer and bikinis in their movie.

But the answer to the riddle above is not, in fact, "22 Jump Street." So what is it?

One possibility would obviously be Danny Glover and Mel Gibson of the franchise-establishing "Lethal Weapon" of 1987. It was a movie that probably had too many children, but marked a significant moment in biracial casting and the marriage of comedy with serious crime drama.

It might be Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone as the eponymous "Tango & Cash" (1989), characters who felt the same about each other that audiences felt about the film.

A really solid guess would be Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy in the seminal cop-buddy romp "48 Hrs." (1982). Even though Murphy's character, Reggie Hammond, wasn't really a cop (he was a convict recruited by Mr. Nolte to find the bad guys), part of the movie's charm is in Reggie's evolution from criminal to cop-like substance - he comes to like impersonating a cop, and he comes to hate the bad guys. Unless one historiography includes such ancient TV ancestors as "Dragnet," "I Spy" and "Car 54 Where Are You?" then "48 Hrs." more or less invented the form.

A fourth possibility: Bruce Willis and Reginald VelJohnson, who played, respectively, the man of action and the man of doughnuts, thwarting the takeover of the Nakatomi building on Christmas Eve, and helping to make "Die Hard" one of the most successful films of 1988. …

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