Tuesday, March 20, 2012
21 Jump Street and How Channing Tatum Found His Groove
Who would have thunk it? The former model (and stripper, soon to be dramatized in Magic Mike, directed by Steven Soderbergh) had such natural comedic rhythm, an unforeseen dimension of, well anything, in playing the dim, ab-informed, intelligence-deficient rookie officer Jenko, a stud in high school who in adulthood finds such amusing vulgarity and more surprisingly, the only facet of a genuine heartbeat in 21 Jump Street. He has such a well-worn, unassuming dumb look on his face that feels strangely true; all the while spewing the weird, slightly worn out dick jokes that pepper the screenplay. As a pretty boy familiar to audiences in such awe-shucks sub-romantic sudsers like Dear John and The Vow where he was nothing but obligatory eye candy, one would never expect such an unexpectedly effervescent and charming performance from the actor. He plays dumb, but gets the joke in such a knowing and nearly insightful way that it not just makes the movie stronger, but altogether calmer in its disheveled frantic-ness. I remain true in stating 21 Jump Street is merely average as filmmaking, but Tatum's performance is a slight game-changer for the ab-admired actor, a nod of confidence for his future, and a step up for the film.