In his autobiography Keith Richards said that the secret to being a junkie for a long period of time without overdosing is knowing not to chase the high. Once you are high you should settle for being high and not try to get more high, because down that road lies madness. If being high doesn’t feel as good as getting high used to feel, well, tough luck, but it is what it is.
I think about that sometimes when I’m watching a movie at home that I really loved when I saw it in the theater. It can be really tempting to try to get that feeling back, but you can also kind of ruin a good memory. Sometimes a film just seems funnier when you are watching it with a good rowdy crowd, or it feels more exciting because it’s got a buzz around it, or there’s a novelty there that’s going to wear off on a rewatch. And it’s particularly risky rewatching a comedy because comedies are tied to their time and place in a way that dramas mostly aren’t.
So I’m happy to report that 21 Jump Street is just as funny on a second viewing as it was on the first one. Yes, some of the more meta-jokes (like having Ice Cube play a police captain and then working N.W.A.’s Fuck tha Police in on the soundtrack) lost a bit of their cleverness, but even the jokes that had lost a bit of elasticity hadn’t turned into total clunkers, and many of the jokes that killed the first time still killed. I had forgotten how ridiculous Jonah Hill looked in his Peter Pan costume and I wasn’t prepared for Channing Tatum to yell “fuck you, Miles Davis” when he jumped headfirst into the gong. This is the sort of movie where there are so many jokes that you just aren’t going to be able to remember all of them after one viewing, so there will still be a lot of things that seem fresh in it till you’ve really run it down into the ground. It might not have gotten me as high as it did the first time, but I still liked being high on this movie.