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SXSW 2012: Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill Premiere '21 Jump Street' to Happy Crowd

It was a love fest in Austin as Sony's reinvention of the 1980s TV series played Monday night.

SXSW 21 Jump Street Premiere Jonah Hill Channing Tatum - P 2012
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Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum

It was a love fest at the world premiere of 21 Jump Street Monday night at the Paramount Theatre in Austin — the fans crushing on stars Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, and the stars crushing on each other.

All the bromance in the air was fitting since the best part of the Sony comedy opening Friday, March 16, is the chemistry between the leads, who play horribly overmatched police officers sent undercover at a high school to bust a drug ring. The re-invention of the ’80s television show is full of laughs and surprises, and proves once again that SXSW Film Festival programmers know their audience’s taste almost too well. The crowd at the Paramount was laughing, cheering and whooping the film’s numerous gags from start to finish.

The film is fast-paced and ridiculous, with loopy drug humor, tons of tweaks on the modern high school experience, some winking self-referential remake irony and one surprisingly gross bit at the climax. Ice Cube plays the loud, constantly angry Jump Street program captain, and Tatum gets off one of the film’s best lines by disgustedly whining, “Fuck you, Glee!” when he realizes the old high school dynamic that had his kind of meathead jock at the top of the heap has since been flopped on its head.

Also on hand for the screening were music supervisor Mark Mothersbaugh, screenwriter Michael Bacall, producer Neal H. Moritz and actors Dave Franco and Rob Riggle, several of whom came on stage afterward to discuss the five-year process of getting the movie into theaters. Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs) opened the post-screening Q&A by introducing themselves as “the high school students that directed 21 Jump Street.”

Tatum and Hill, dressed in their bike-cop outfits from the movie, continued their guy love during the discussion, complimenting and razzing each other in equal measure. “He breaks your heart and makes you laugh — and it sucks, because he shouldn’t,” Hill said at one point of Tatum’s performance. “I should be breaking your heart.” This resulted in Tatum leaning over to embrace Hill to “aw”s from the crowd. More of that came when one woman asked Tatum, “Why did you never take your shirt off in this movie?” (His answer alluded to the amount of fatty food and beer available in New Orleans, where the film was shot.)

Asked about a sequel, Hill said, “All of us here would love to do a sequel. But it’s out of our hands now.” He then exhorted the audience to talk up the movie so it does well enough to warrant one. Regardless, the actor-writer, who had just seen the film with an audience for the first time, seemed genuinely jazzed about the film’s reception. “Whatever happens in the next week, we’ll have this night forever. You guys are fucking awesome.”