When cinephiles first got word that 21 Jump Street  the fan-favorite 1980’s TV series starring pre-mega-star Johnny Depp – was going to be “remade” into a big screen comedy starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, the response was overwhelmingly negative.

Whether that reaction was due to cynicism surrounding the over-abundance of recent 80’s remakes (Footloose and The A-Team, among others) or a general feeling that film was “unnecessary” (or in some way undermines the beloved source material) is up for debate. That said, early reactions from people who’ve actually seen 21 Jump Street have been largely positive – leading many to wonder if directing team, Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs), may deliver one of the first surprise hits of 2012.

Despite a lot of low expectations, the film’s official trailer generated positive buzz among moviegoers and the critical community, alike – helping to get the ball rolling on a 21 Jump Street sequel (as well as propel the film into our list of the 10 Movies We’re Looking Forward to in March 2012).

21 Jump Street preview screenings have been popping up across the country for nearly two weeks now – helping to keep the film’s momentum going through pre-release word of mouth. But what are people saying? CinemaBlend put together some of the most telling Tweets from SXSW attendees and film bloggers – in order to give would-be moviegoers a sense of the reactions from the festival screening at the Paramount Theater:

21 Jump Street was much funnier than I expected. A great addition to the #SXSW Monday night Paramount Theater studio comedy tradition.” Matt Dentler

21 Jump Street was way better than it should have been.” Igor

“You couldn’t hear half the jokes cause the #SXSW crowd was rightfully cheering & screaming for 21 Jump Street, one of the best of 2012 so far.” Germain Lussier

“Believe the hype. 21 Jump Street is REALLY funny. Loudest laughs and claps I’ve ever heard at the Paramount.” Chris McInroy

Judging by the early reactions, as well as insights from a few members on the Screen Rant staff who’ve also had a chance to check out 21 Jump Street, anyone expecting a gritty “modern” re-imagining of the original series concept is likely to be disappointed by the upcoming film – given that it’s mostly intended to be a laugh-a-minute exercise in crazy cop/High Schooler antics. However, viewers who’ve seen the film’s trailers (especially the 21 Jump Street Red Band trailer) should know that Lord and Miller (along with stars Hill and Tatum) were never trying to put together a brooding update to the source material – and were more focused on doing bodily damage to the film’s stars (via car collisions, knife wounds, etc).

We’ll be posting our full written review of the film on Friday morning – so check back then to see if our final take on 21 Jump Street is in-line with all the pre-release hype. In the meantime, have a look at the recently unveiled “interactive” version of the 21 Jump Street trailer – which features loads of terrifying interesting facts about law enforcement, the movie’s production, and more.

Just think about this the next time you complain about getting pulled over by a cop for speeding: “Less than a third of candidates actually pass the written Police Officer Exam (and only 5% of those who pass are offered a position).” Hopefully the majority of that 5% are more responsible than Hill and Tatum’s characters in 21 Jump Street.

21 Jump Street open in theaters around the U.S. on March 16th, 2012.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further updates.

Source: CinemaBlend