I’m not big on big blockbuster comedies or reboots, but dammit! This one was kind of funny. I did laugh. I laughed! I did. Especially because they put in a joke, within the first 10 minutes, about how bullshitty it is that reboots even exist. I appreciate and applaud that level of meta, and I allow it to proceed entertaining me.
Besides the obvious, casual chem-bro-stry between Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, and the subsequent excellently-written banter that they delivered with aplomb, this movie was astoundingly well-edited. The storyline involved a lot of flashing-forward and quick-cutting, in a way that would make a lot of similar comedies look instantly cheap. But the awesome team of Lord and Miller made it look pretty darn seamless, and thus a little more respectable than other aforementioned big blockbuster comedies.
I’m not going to get into the minutae of the plot, because it doesn’t really matter, and it’s just more fun to watch it not knowing what’s going to happen. What I am going to get into, however, is the theme of generational differences that was very well-handled throughout. See, Tatum and Hill played these two 26-ish cops going undercover at a high school, and you’d think that with their youthy youthfulness, they’d blend right in. Makes sense to me. But even for someone 10-ish years out of their freshman year in high school, the differences are astounding. I’ve always prided myself on calling out my peers when they say they’re old, because they’re not. We’re not. We’re not yet 30. The technology we grew up with is truly not old. It’s just outdated, and we live in a world where “outdated” happens very quickly now. But seeing that newfangled teenage mindset portrayed on screen — exaggerated as it was, with Dave Franco’s perfect bro encouraging composting and kicking homophobia to the curb — made me realize that so much has changed in the last 10-ish years since I’ve been in high school that it might be okay to embrace the things I’m familiar with as… old.
The scene that really stood out to me was when Doug (Jonah Hill) calls Molly (Brie Larson) and she picks up, only to reveal almost instantly that she never talks to people on the phone unless they’re her grandparents. All of her communication with her friends is either in person (at school), or via text. TEXT! To me, that is truly terrifying. If language were still upheld on its proper pedestal, I might be okay with texting being the prevalent form of communication. But it’s not. Kids, teenagers, even early twentysomethings, interact in a completely different way now. And those habits have bled into my age group, and the one above me, and the one above that. I barely talk to my friends on the phone anymore. I text. There’s text etiquette replacing phone etiquette. There’s no more room to call. I didn’t start watching this movie expecting to have all of these Big Thoughts, but here they are, laid in front of me and strewn between occasional dick jokes. I’m not old yet, but I’m definitely older.
And so are the actors that I still consider vibrant and innocent — Jake Johnson played the school principal, for god’s sake, and Ellie Kemper one of the teachers. I’m not saying either one of them isn’t an authoritative figure, but I consider them to be sort of in my age group, and I don’t consider myself to be an authoritative figure, so by the transitive property, none of us should be in charge of anything.
Except comedy. In the comedy realm, I think we’re set.