As Hollywood's sees a decade of aging leading men like Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and George Clooney--48, 49, and 50, respectively--fall with the rising tide of time and gravity (I don't care how magnetic Brad Pitt is, no one wants to see a 60-year old leading man...), upstarts like Tatum are primed and ready to slide over the hood and into the driver's seat.
Tatum moved around as a child, living in Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. He earned a football scholarship to college--and in case you weren't paying attention--the boy didn't just switch school districts within the same county, or even state--he had to start from scratch every time he moved. And, he's dyslexic! I have immeasurable amounts of respect and appreciation for the difficulty Tatum faced growing up, and, his efforts since. He left college to pursue a career in modeling, moving to Miami--that takes courage for someone with no connections in the entertainment industry. His first gig was in a Ricky Martin video for "She Bangs" in the year 2000 for a lousy $400. (For shame, Ricky Martin!) Today, he's not just a pretty face, he's also a Producer, including Executive Producer of his latest WOW, 21 JUMP STREET.
As The Pop Culture ProfessorTM, I get to see a lot of movies--the good, the bad, and the ridiculously ugly. 21 JUMP STREET isn't just good. It's GREAT! And no, Tony the Tiger will not be joining this party--though I do have a sudden craving for Frosted Flakes. And speaking of Tonys, I wouldn't mind seeing Tatum on Broadway one day.... *hint, hint*
The premise of JUMP STREET is based on Patrick Hasburgh and Stephen J. Cannell's original television series, 21 JUMP STREET, starring Johnny Depp. Richard Grieco, Holly Robinson, and Michael DeLuise (son of the 70's and 80's funny man, Dom DeLuise). Tatum and co-star, Jonah Hill, play a pair of high school enemies turned partners as adults on the police force. They are assigned to a new undercover division called 21 JUMP STREET, run by ICE CUBE (who was equally great in his role). Hijinks ensue as the two fumble their way through a high school drug ring shake down posing as students.
Channing Tatum is not just athletic...this guy is funny as hell. And Jonah Hill knocks it out of the part as not just co-star but co-creator of the story. MONEYBALL impressed me. Until then, Hill's on-and off-screen persona as the fat, funny Jewish kid was cliche and tired...he was just another flash-in-the-funny-pan. Until MONEYBALL. There, Hill was an actor with real chops. And even though 21 JUMP STREET is plump full of pop culture references, bad language and bad jokes, Hill manages to eek out a human side to his rather vulnerable character. As does Tatum. But no surprise there. Though I didn't do a write up of THE VOW, I thought Tatum's performance was both touching and bold as the husband of an amnesiac woman; his pain was actually palpable. And that takes real talent.
In JUMP STREET, Tatum gives what could have been a two-dimensional character life as the under-achieving athlete with heart...and soul. Early in the film, the police chief looks right into the camera, and mocks the film with a line about how no one does anything new anymore; they just rehash ideas from the 80's. Awesome! I must have laughed aloud more than a dozen times during the one-hour and fifty-minute film.
And I'm not going to spoil any surprises...but there are a few that are worth waiting for. Trust me.
21 JUMP STREET gets a 10/10 on the Housel-scale with a great-big, "Go Tatum!!!" cheer. Nice spin on the molitov, btw!!!
Look for Channing Tatum in June in his production, MAGIC MIKE, loosely based on his own life. Oh, and did I mention it's about male strippers???