21 Jump Street

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
21 Jump Street Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
TV-based buddy comedy is crude but hilarious.
  • R
  • 2012
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 51 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 140 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

21 Jump Street's main message is that friendship trumps high school stereotypes and popularity contests -- as long as you keep an eye on what's important (relationships) and what's not (your position in an imposed hierarchy).

Positive Role Models & Representations

The two lead characters are sometimes inept and inane and not always supportive of each other, but in the end they realize the error of their ways.


Lots of it, but generally played cartoonishly (and lots of slow-motion scenes). A character rejoices when his friend shoots someone (it's a gross-out moment); guns are drawn and pointed at someone's head. Though most of the fight scenes are cartoonish in nature, blood is shed. And cops rejoice after arresting and shooting people.


Three people are shown in a state of undress while in the middle of a sex act (though there's no graphic nudity); in an end-credits scenes, two couples are seen together. Also lots of crude language and sex talk, including discussion of teens hooking up and/or wanting to. Some kissing and sexual gestures; genitalia are drawn on family photographs and also can be glimpsed briefly in a non-sexual context.


Very frequent use of strong language, including "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "bitch," "p---y," "prick," "d--k," "damn," "hell," "goddamn," and "oh my God" (as an exclamation).


It's a teen movie, so the products that teens use -- laptops, phones, etc. -- are on display. But there's not a lot of label-dropping.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The plot centers around the arrest of a drug ring that deals in a high school; they've created a synthetic drug whose effects have been chronicled on a website. The video has gone viral, and the 21 Jump Street agents have to stop the drug from spreading, too. There's also pot-smoking and some underage drinking at parties.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that 21 Jump Street is an often crude (but irreverently funny) action/buddy comedy based on the popular '80s TV series that launched Johnny Depp's career. This version stars popular actors Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill as bumbling cops who attempt to redeem themselves by going undercover to bust a high school drug ring. The storyline leads to plenty of drug content (there's also pot smoking and some underage drinking), and you can also expect lots of strong language (including "f--k," "s--t," and more), crude references, and sexual innuendoes.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byChesy the KID April 14, 2012

Good For all ages

This movie does have drugs, drinking, and bad language, but your kids aregonna be exposed to this in the next few years and maybe have already been exposed to t... Continue reading
Adult Written bystephanine March 17, 2012

Think before you take your kids to certain movies!!!!

I just went to go see this movie and I was appauled, not by the movie but a couple diffrent families who took their children to see it. hello its rated R. how h... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byFutureMrs.JohnnyDepp March 17, 2012

Great movie for the older teens and adults, but not for kids!

I saw this movie, and I am 16. It was absolutely hilarious, the whole theatre laughed a lot! (It is definitely VERY funny!) But, not for kids. Kids wouldn'... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byBCHS2023 August 6, 2020

I don't see why your kids can't watch this.

Yes, it has some inappropriate jokes, but your kids are already exposed to that stuff just by going to school. It's not going to make a difference. Plus th... Continue reading

What's the story?

Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) weren't friends in high school. Schmidt was sensitive and smart and not particularly sporty; Jenko was the opposite. But the police academy they both attended is the great equalizer, and they each learn from the other's strengths ... even though they're not particularly good at their jobs (Jenko can't even remember the Miranda rights). So off to 21 Jump Street they go to prove they have what it takes by busting a major drug ring. The job entails pretending to be in high school again, and Schmidt's worried that he'll be uncool once again -- and, worse, forgotten. But the world has changed a whole lot, and so have the "cool kids." Turns out that the ones who used to be on the sidelines are ruling high school in more ways than one.

Is it any good?

This is how you remake a franchise. Rather than borrowing heavily from its '80s TV predecessor or mining the same, now-tired jokes as some other movies descended from previously known projects, 21 JUMP STREET is solidly in the present, even as it flashes back to the past. Its material is modern, its jokes whip-smart, and, as a result, it's a delight (as long as you're "mature" enough to handle the crude stuff, of course).

21 Jump Street's wit comes from the way that it pokes fun at high school and how its sociological makeup -- who's popular, who's not, what are kids these days up to? -- has changed over the years. The film actually twists some stereotypes on their heads. (The troubled kids are actually environmentalists and academically serious.) The drug plot is almost incidental, but not so incidental that it's a wash. It still propels the film forward and provides a great backdrop for the central theme to unfold: the friendship shared by the two leads. And Hill and Tatum have great chemistry, a main requirement of buddy cop movies. Both are in fine form. Who else is in fine form? Johnny Depp, who graciously makes a cameo that's hilarious and cheeky and satisfying. See this movie, stat.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how 21 Jump Street portrays high school. Is it realistic? Is it meant to be? Teens: How does this school compare to yours?

  • Parents, talk to your kids about social struggles and drug use in high school. Does this film depict either/both accurately? What are the consequences of substance use/abuse in real life?

  • How does the movie compare to the original 21 Jump Street TV show? If you were a fan of the series, is the movie what you expected?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action and comedy

Themes & Topics

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