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Capsule reviews of '21 Jump Street' and other new movie releases
"21 Jump Street" ' The TV show that made Johnny Depp a star is little more than a jumping-off point for this rowdy, raunchy big-screen update that aims for laughs over action and delivers them intermittently. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are surprisingly amusing together as newbie cops sent undercover as high school kids to root out a drug ring. Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller take everything ' the car chases, the shootouts, the teen kegger, the goofy idiocy of the characters ' to the extreme. Some of the absurd violence is funny, some is pointlessly mean and nasty enough to jar viewers out of the action now and then. Hill and Tatum's odd-couple act is the best thing about the movie, both playing the straight man yet managing to make their partnership much funnier than the hit-and-miss jokes and action really are. The movie's nimble pacing also helps, sneaking in some slick, wily tidbits and powering through the many gags that would fall flat if you had another second or two to think about them. It doesn't work all the time, or even most of the time, but it does work enough of the time to make this more enjoyable than most of Hollywood's unimaginative remakes and updates. R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, drug material, teen drinking and some violence. 109 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.
' David Germain, AP Movie Writer
"Casa de mi Padre" ' This is a total goof, of course. That's obvious even before Will Ferrell, dressed in a cowboy hat and a neckerchief sitting astride a horse in the Mexican desert, opens his mouth and utters his first overly enunciated Spanish words. It's clear from the titles: a grainy, bloody, Tarantino-style montage of melodramatic spaghetti Western imagery, featuring Christina Aguilera belting out the bombastic theme song. The affection for B-movies and telenovelas is clear in this sendup from Matt Piedmont (making his directing debut) and writer Andrew Steele, longtime collaborators of Ferrell's from "Saturday Night Live" and "Funny or Die." But the premise, which would have been just fine as a sketch, feels as if it's been stretched awfully thin to fill an entire feature. Still, you have to give everyone involved credit for just going for it. That starts with Ferrell himself, speaking solid Spanish (albeit with an Americanized accent) as Armando Alvarez, a dimwitted ranchero whose successful businessman brother, Raul (Diego Luna), is the star of the family as far as their father (the late Pedro Armendariz Jr.) is concerned. When Raul brings home his stunningly beautiful fiancee (Genesis Rodriguez), it further seals his superiority. But it turns out Raul is a drug dealer locked in a turf war with the powerful Onza (Luna's friend and frequent co-star Gael Garcia Bernal). Intentional continuity errors, missing frames and cheap production values abound. R for bloody violence, language, and some sexual content and drug use. In Spanish with English subtitles. 84 minutes. Two stars out of four.
' Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic
"Jeff, Who Lives at Home" ' Mark Duplass has said that he and his brother, Jay, look to the veteran Belgian filmmaking brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne for artistic inspiration, with their naturalistic, documentary-style approach to telling feature stories. That's evident once again in this sweet, slight tale told with simple intimacy and a deadpan tone to its absurd humor. Not much happens over a meandering day in suburban Baton Rouge, La., but it all builds to a climax that makes the journey worthwhile. Jason Segel plays the titular character, a 30-year-old slacker who still lives in the basement of his childhood home. Inspired by the M. Night Shyamalan movie "Signs," he believes there are no coincidences, that everything happens for a reason if you're willing to open your mind and pay attention to the daily details that can determine your fate. And so a simple errand for his widowed, enabling mother (Susan Sarandon in a lovely, understated performance) turns into a weird and winding adventure involving pickup basketball, amateur sleuthing and an elusive man named Kevin. The Duplasses create the sensation that we're just following along wherever Jeff takes us, without judgment. Ed Helms and Judy Greer co-star. R for language including sexual references and some drug use. 82 minutes. Three stars out of four.
' Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic