Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum don’t seem like a great comedic duo on paper, but together they make “21 Jump Street,” a film that shouldn’t work, a hilarious, surprisingly touching comedy.
The film screened at South By Southwest last week, and The Daily Texan participated in a round table interview with Hill and Tatum.
The Daily Texan: SXSW seems like a great place to bring this film and show it to a crowd.
Jonah Hill: Yeah, it’s been really fun. I made [Channing] wait to see it with an audience, with the crowd tonight, because South By is the best place to show a movie in the world. In fact, five years ago exactly, I was here promoting “Knocked Up” with Paul Rudd when I got the phone call asking me to adapt this TV show into a movie, and I started working on it five years ago exactly, in this same hotel. It’s kind of insane.
DT: Was it originally a comedy?
Hill: My agent said you should do it as a comedy, and I said, “Let me think about it. I don’t want to be someone who remakes things,” and that’s why one of the first jokes is about how lazy it is. I wanted to make “Bad Boys” meets a John Hughes movie, and that’s the idea I had and that’s what I feel like we’ve done our best shot at, our best version of.
DT: When you two first met, could you tell that you had that chemistry that would translate so well on screen?
Hill: It’s crazy because we took a gamble at it and ended up becoming great friends and got lucky that it worked.
Channing Tatum: Sometimes it’s not like that.
Hill: We didn’t know each other.
Tatum: We waved at each other from across a restaurant. “Superbad” came out, and I was like “’Grats, dude!” And he was like “Sup?” And that was it.
DT: How do you feel about the backlash from “21 Jump Street” ... I don’t know what you would call them, purists, I guess?
Hill: We’ve heard that once today, and that made me laugh so hard. Those 15 people. There’s a script that’s a pure adaptation of the series, and I can get a copy of that to the 15 nerds who are complaining online. The writers of it actually came up to me and were like, “Oh man, your version is about a billion times better.”
DT: How did you decide what to keep from the original series?
Hill: We just wanted to pay homage at certain points, just to have that fun stuff for people who love the show, but “21 Jump Street” purists ... It’s like, “Shut the fuck up!” You know, it’s not like we remade “The Godfather.” I would never remake something that was like a brilliant, amazing thing. It was something that was fun, but it didn’t need a remake. What’s funny is, when you talk to young people, they don’t even know what “21 Jump Street” is.
Tatum: Just keep bringing it back. I don’t care. Remakes or not, good stories are good stories. Good movies are good movies.
Hill: Those people who are complaining, they haven’t seen the movie. What’s hilarious is, the best thing our movie has going for it is its extremely low expectations because it’s a remake of a television show. They always suck. Ours is good, and that’s the twist of the movie, that it’s not awful.
DT: Channing, was it difficult to keep up with the more experienced comedians on set?
Tatum: I don’t think you can keep up with these guys. They’re truly the elite of what they actually do, but they set a great stage for me to not feel bad about failing and really going for it.
DT: Jonah, what was it like getting to do action scenes?
Hill: It was fun. I liked it a lot. That’s why it was important to cast Channing opposite me because, in order for a movie to feel like “Bad Boys” meets a John Hughes movie, you need it to have some action credibility there, and I had never done action movies before, so I don’t have credibility in that universe and Channing has done a ton of it and is amazing at it. It was really fun, honestly. There’s no other way to put it.
DT: It seemed like there were some bits from the trailers that didn’t make it into the movie. There was a scene where Channing runs over you with his car and the windshield is smashed.
Tatum: That’s interesting. We saw a really early cut of the movie. I haven’t seen the movie either.
Hill: I know there’s been a lot of backlash from windshield purists.
Published on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 as: "21 Jump Street' stars discuss film