REVIEW: ’22 Jump Street’

Ice Cube;Jonah Hill;Channing Tatum

I confess that I never watched 21 Jump Street — not the late-’80s cop show with Johnny Depp, not the spoofy movie comedy from 2012 with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. No judgment there — I just didn’t imagine either would be my thing.

So I went into 22 Jump Street open-eyed: Not with low expectations, but rather no expectations. And the result? An unexpectedly laugh-filled two hours of enjoyably wasted time. That’s because 22 Jump Street knows what it is — a craven, ridiculous sequel intended more to make money that achieve art. Indeed, the front quarter of the film is laden down with jokes about how much more expensive everything is — the operations headquarters, the investigation at a college, etc. “As if doubling the budget will double to grosses,” one of the undercover cops (played by Hill and Tatum) smirks.

And that’s the thing: They are, like the audience, always aware they are in a movie. And they have fun. So we do, too.

The plot (as they suggest, stolen directly from 21 Jump) involved these mismatched 30-year-olds posing (ineffectively) as teenagers, this time at Metro City University. Jenko (Tatum) enjoys the college experience — and why wouldn’t he? He’s a stud, a football star, a popular fraternity pledge. Schmidt (Hill), though, is still the lovable loser, the pudgy, nervous kid who creeps people out.

They get a lot of mileage out of the Mutt-and-Jeff combo, with some hilarious riffing on looking like adults, being narcs, etc. Like Judd Apatow movies, there’s a sense that much of this is improvised; unlike Apatow, it doesn’t rely on men sitting around a table constantly one-upping each other in some pot-fueled fantasy of what men talk like. This is a pretension-free film, like the Airplane! movies — the point is simply to chuckle.

And chuckle, guffaw and knee-slap you do, thanks to the enjoyable comic energy between Hill and Tatum, and the bromantic, homoerotic interplay between Tatum and, well, every other man on screen. (Hey, when you have Magic Mike in your movie, you gotta expect some swooning, even by other men.) It’s all in service of the best thing a heartless, money-grubbing summer blockbuster wannabe can be: Worth your time.

Opens in wide release Friday.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

It’s official: ‘Magic Mike: The Musical’ will be headed to Broadway

Mike

It’s become depressing how many Broadway musicals aren’t truly original, but start off as movies first, from The Lion King to Kinky Boots. But we can’t say we’re upset to learn that last year’s hit male stripper movie, Magic Mike, will be headed to Broadway as Magic Mike: The Musical, Deadline is reporting.

Talk of a stage musical has been around for a while now, but this week the film’s producer and star, Channing Tatum, officially confirmed that Next to Normal composers Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey will write the songs. And now-omnipresent gay scribe Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Glee, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the upcoming Carrie remake) will write the book to the show.

That last bit of news gives us hope. Even the film’s director, Steven Soderbergh, acknowledged that gay men really turned out to make the film a hit. Aguirre-Sacasa could well add a gay subplot to the script. And we can wait to see how they do the penis-pumping scene.

No word yet on whether any cast members from the film will be in the show, or even when the production will make it to the Great White Way, but trust us: We’ll be in line at TKTS as soon as it is.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

National Pride month is almost over, but there are still a few things you can do to prove how gay you are.  For example, Dallas’ first-ever gay darts tourney starts this weekend, and it’s not too late to late-register. And The Real L Word makes a Dallas appearance for ladies’ night out at Winston’s Supperclub on Sunday … which, I guess, is technically not June anymore, but still ….

July 4 falls awkwardly mid-week this year, but you can still head up to Addison for Kaboom Town on Tuesday night, or go out to see The Amazing Spider-Man, which opens Tuesday and promises to be one of the summer’s box office hits; the movie is not bad, either — look for a review next week.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Movie Monday: Eye some beef at ‘The Eagle’

Homoeroticism fuels the beefcake battles of ‘Eagle’

The first great gay love story of 2011 is here, though you have to read between the lines to see it. The Eagle is part of the historical beefcake genre (formerly known as the sword and sandal flick), re-popularized by Gladiator and 300. Fans of the latter will be disappointed to see these Romans wearing more than those Greeks, though they do occasionally shed their tops and sleep in loincloths.

You might rather see Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell in a dance-off than playing a master and slave who exchange roles — or maybe you wouldn’t. At least they have choreographed battle scenes, and a fight that gives them an excuse to roll around on the ground together.

Read the entire review here.

—  Rich Lopez

Screen Review: ‘The Eagle’

BIRDS OF A FEATHER | Shields and longswords give homoerotic meaning to the master-slave relationship in ‘The Eagle.’

Roman holiday

Homoeroticism fuels the beefcake battles of ‘Eagle’

STEVE WARREN  | Contributing Writer
thinhead@mindspring.com

The first great gay love story of 2011 is here, though you have to read between the lines to see it. The Eagle is part of the historical beefcake genre (formerly known as the sword and sandal flick), re-popularized by Gladiator and 300. Fans of the latter will be disappointed to see these Romans wearing more than those Greeks, though they do occasionally shed their tops and sleep in loincloths.

You might rather see Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell in a dance-off than playing a master and slave who exchange roles — or maybe you wouldn’t. At least they have choreographed battle scenes, and a fight that gives them an excuse to roll around on the ground together.

Marcus Flavius Aquila (Tatum) is trying to restore the honor of his family and Rome by recapturing the symbolic eagle — the original gold standard — that disappeared 20 years before, along with 5,000 troops of the Ninth Legion under his father’s command. He volunteers for duty in Britain, near where the Ninth was last seen. When he arrives there’s a shot of some men checking him out that could have come from a prison movie. He immediately takes charge and orders the fort redecorated.

Wounded and transferred after a disastrous attack, Marcus saves that slave Esca (Bell) from a gladiator. That’s when Marcus’ uncle (Donald Sutherland), with a matchmaking gleam in his eye, assigns Esca to serve Marcus; Esca does so, “even though I hate everything you stand for.” They then meet Guern (Mark Strong), a survivor of the Ninth, who directs them to the “painted warriors” who have the eagle.

Those colorful natives have maintained their fighting skills, even though there’s no sign of anyone for them to fight. Esca and Marcus swap identities, with Marcus posing as the slave. The plot then comes down to the adage, “If you love somebody set them free.” And how far that love goes … well, that’s where the mind wanders wildly.

Tatum, though not a bad actor, is out of his depth here. It doesn’t help that he occasionally picks up an accent from one or another of his co-stars, who come from all over the Anglo-American map. Bell gives Esca the same fierce determination Billy Elliot had, but less ambiguity than the script demands.

That The Eagle was directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) explains why it looks like a class act. His battle scenes are the trendy chaotic sort, offering no context for individual close-up conflicts and making you wait until the dust clears to figure out what happened.

As serious historical fiction The Eagle doesn’t soar but neither does it crash. As a bromance … please! Closeted as it is, The Eagle may be the hottest gay love story until Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar has Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer going at it.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 11, 2011.

—  John Wright

Is Bella spinning her wheels? Patz may be gay

Maybe he's faking it. He is pretending to be a vampire, after all.
Maybe he’s faking it. He is pretending to be a vampire, after all.

There’s speculation out there that the star of Twilight might be gay … the wrong Twlight star from my perspective, but we work with what we got.

Robert Pattinson (not Taylor Lautner — sigh!) gave an interview to Details magazine where he claimed to be “allergic” to vaginas. “I really hate vaginas,” he told the reporter, following a 12-hour photo shoot with many women. He also dodged the question of whether he was dating anyone, saying only his current and most meaningful relationship is with his dog.

How much of this is hoo-ha manufactured by the blogosphere is anyone’s guess — maybe he was just waxing about the numbing effect of nudity — but that hasn’t stopped sites like MTV Australia from reporting it as basically news: Robert Pattinson has indirectly come out.

Please. I know what coming out looks like, and it’s not that.

Nevertheless, it’s worth reading just to hear Edward Cullen — who, keep in mind, no one had even heard of 18 months ago — say something other than the dreadful trite dialogue of thse terrible, terrible movies.

You can read the interview here. though if I were you, I might scroll over to the interview with Channing Tatum, where he talks about his penis in detail. Even shows the interviewer a picture of it.

I need to get that gig.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones