Features and Columns · Movies

21 Things We Learned From the ’21 Jump Street’ Commentary

By  · Published on June 12th, 2014

Sony Pictures

22 Jump Street hits theaters tomorrow, and you should probably go see it. I say probably, but I mean definitely as it is ridiculously funny and entertaining. If you enjoyed the first one it’s guaranteed you’ll love the follow-up. I re-watched 21 Jump Street the night before the sequel’s screening and was happy to see that it remains a fantastically fun watch even two years after its premiere.

Watching it yet again ‐ this time with the commentary track featuring directors Phil Lord & Chris Miller as well as leads Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum ‐ proved to be an equally good time. The quartet are clearly a good team, and it’s as evident in the film as it is in their shared commentary. They appear to have recorded the track just after the film’s opening weekend, and it’s clear they’re still on a high from audiences’ reception of it all.

21 Jump Street (2012)

Commentators: Phil Lord and Chris Miller (directors), Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum (actors)

1. Hill likes that they put the film’s score over the Columbia Pictures logo, and the directors reveal that they specifically asked composer Mark Mothersbaugh to open with something “big and ballsy at the top.”

2. Hill’s character introduction at high school in 2005 was modeled on how he actually looked and dressed when he went to high school. The flashback to his own life continues with his character’s childhood photos which are actually all of Hill.

3. The scene where Schmidt (Hill) wipes away his tears on the bench always gets a laugh from audiences, but it was supposed to be sad. Seriously.

4. Johnny Depp shared stories with them from his days on the 21 Jump Street series including how he tried to do an entire episode while wearing a turban and speaking in gibberish. The show’s producers said no. Lord and Miller joke(?) that his stipulations for doing a cameo in the film were that he die and that he get to work with Peter DeLuise again.

5. Hill and Tatum had a bet regarding the film’s opening weekend box office. “I will kiss the tip of your dick through your underwear if we make $35 million,” Hill told Tatum. They recorded this commentary on the Monday after opening weekend so Tatum is understandably excited.

6. Johnny Simmons’ webcam sequence was filmed over six hours in a bedroom in the house beside Schmidt’s parents. He was given minor direction and told to just have fun.

7. Producer Neil H. Moritz was the inspiration for the “infiltrate the dealer, find the supplier” line. When Lord and Miller were crafting the film, trying to beef up the story and make it more complicated, Moritz told them repeatedly that the cops only need to infiltrate the dealer and find the supplier.

8. The Korean Jesus was sculpted specifically for the movie. Lord and Miller’s only note was “not too Korean.”

9. Ice Cube had no interest in saying the line “With all due respect you can gargle my nut sack.” So he didn’t.

10. Caroline Aaron, who plays Schmidt’s mother (and in fact is friends with Hill’s mom), burped in Hill’s face during production. “What the fuck lady,” he replied, “why’d you just burp in my face? That’s insane.” Hill says this was the one argument he’s gotten into with an actor on set.

11. Hill only just noticed that Schmidt’s mom writes his and Jenko’s undercover names in quotes. He appreciates the joke.

12. An extra with a prosthetic arm in the early parking lot scene passed out from the heat, and afterward she said she couldn’t feel her arm. Lord asked her “Which one?” Some people laughed, but others weren’t so sure who was joking.

13. One of Chris Parnell’s jokes was originally about doing cocaine with “Whitney Houston’s niece,” but Houston’s death on the same night they were making the first prints of the film required them to stop the presses, call in Parnell and have him ADR a line that matched his on-screen lip movements. The result was “Willie Nelson’s horse.”

14. The scene where they finger each other’s mouths was shot in one take with “80 cameras” to make sure they caught in all. The duo put Listerine on their fingers before commencing.

15. Hill comments on the liquor store just being called “Liquor.” The idea was that all of the shops in Metro City featured “generic Helvetica signs just like Repo Man.” The sequel actually continues this joke in a new and equally subtle direction.

16. They point out a glitch at the beginning of the party scene when Jenko’s three friends arrive. Three come to the door, but only two come in. The third actor had accidentally been sent home to L.A. prematurely before they got around to filming the reverse shot.

17. PETA apparently asked the filmmakers if the giant fish hanging on the wall in the nerd basement was real. It was not. On a different animal-related note, they originally planned to use white pigeons during the limo exit sequence, but they discovered that pigeons sleep at night… and animal welfare rules forbid them from being woken up. (And on a less animal-related note, the scene also features Hill’s and Tatum’s stand-ins in red on either side.)

18. Tatum did not think the chase scene with the non-explosive sequences was going to work. He was happily proven wrong after seeing it again with reworked sound design.

19. Rob Riggle kept “accidentally” grabbing Brie Larson’s boobs during the hotel room standoff. Tatum laughed during every take and eventually told Riggle who immediately grew embarrassed.

20. Steven Spielberg’s favorite shot in the movie is when they step on the fake nose.

21. The closing credits were created by Imaginary Forces, the same company that did Seven.

Best in Commentary

Final Thoughts

This commentary track is a bit of a double-edged sword. There’s no doubt it’s very funny and loaded with great anecdotes and references, but the quartet talk so fast and repeatedly cut each other off in their enthusiasm for the next thing that it’s incredibly difficult to grab complete thoughts and quotes. But that’s my problem. You should definitely give it a listen… right before you head out to see the sequel.

Check out more commentary commentary in the Commentary Commentary archives

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.