STUDIO: Disney
MSRP: $26.99 RATED: TV-G
RUNNING TIME: 85 Minutes
Learn the Moves: Corbin Bleu teaches you how to double dutch
Inside the Ropes: The Making of Jump In!
• Keke Palmer music video: "Jumpin’"
• T-Squad music video: "Vertical"

The Pitch

"It’s about jump-roping, see? Real street, real extreme jump-roping, I tell ya! Way of the future!"

The Humans

Corbin Bleu, Keke Palmer, Shanica Knowles, Laivan Greene, Patrick Johnson Jr., David Reivers

The Nutshell

Izzy Daniels (Bleu) is this totally hot, totally cool boxer, right? And, like, all he wants to do is, like, make his father proud, but, like, he throws it all into jeopardy when he, like, joins a girl’s Double Dutch team. Will he, like, follow his heart, or, like, follow his dad?

And will that last bit make you gag?

I don’t like it. So far, off to a bad start.

The Lowdown

This movie was so predictable. It was practically a predict-a-calf!

See that right there? Didn’t want to make that joke, but I wanted to throw something out there aimed at this movie’s target audience, which I’d clock in at around 13. Here’s a suggestion: if you laughed at that joke, then you’ll like JUMP IN! (exclamation point “requested” by Disney International Pictures). If not…then this flick’s 85 minutes are gonna feel really long.

I got no problem with the sports underdog movie. It’s a strong concept, and a lot of good movies have riffed on it. Cinderella Man, The Champ, Any GIven Sunday, Total Recall. All fine films. Jump In! is not one of those. It’s not a bad film; I’d rather sit through this than Saw 3, for example. But it’s so predictable and colorless in its writing, directing, and acting that, after a while, it becomes the filmic equivalent of WonderBread.

Except this flick doesn’t kinda feel like a boob when you squeeze it.

Erykah Badu: Then and Now.

And I can almost give it a recommendation, actually. It wasn’t for me, but I’m a 21-year old guy who gets all wheezy tying his shoes. I can see nothing of myself in a 13-year old boxing/double-dutch expert. And it’s predictable, but by no means is it offensive (almost). I’d even go so far as to call it superior to a lot of the dreck that passes for cinema on the Disney Channel. Here’s what it has going for it:

  1. There’s some good messages to be learned here about teamwork and self-respect, as well as acceptance
  2. There are actual kids playing kids here, not 25 year old pituitary cases
  3. There’s a decent lack of emphasis on winning that I found refreshing
  4. It promotes a healthy and active lifestyle
  5. It’s set in NYC but filmed in Canada, and if you close your eyes and smoke a joint, you can’t even tell the difference
  6. Most impressively, it focuses on black kids and their families without steeping their lives in drugs and guns or characterizing them in sub-UPN ways

These are good things for the target audience to be exposed to, and they could do a whole lot worse (Are We There Yet, Are We Done Yet, see where I’m going with this?) in terms of family entertainment. Plus, they’re not gonna care that the acting is of the “mirror” school variety (star Corbin Bleu mugs so much he makes Nick Cannon look restrained), or that it’s only two cameras away from a nighttime sitcom, or that all problems are solved by a pat bit of sermonizing and a hug, or that every beat has been done, and done better, many times before in many better films. I’m reminded of something Roger Ebert once said in his review of Curious George, and I think it applies here: “[this] is not a family movie. It is a children’s movie. There is nothing wrong with that, and a great deal that is admirable. For once the [kids] can watch a movie where they have a good chance of understanding everything that happens and everything that’s said.” They can’t all be like Akeelah and the Bee, which is a wonderfully acted, terrifically exciting underdog flick that does everything this one does but better and all the while being entertainment for adults as well (and stars Keke Palmer, one of the leads here).

Still, I’m carping here, maybe unduly. Where I’m all tied up in my thinking is in the central conceit of Jump In!: that double-dutch is badass.

Not cool. Not fun. But Honest-to-God, pedal-to-the-metal, suck-the-bend-off-a-river badass.

Another entry into The Nation Hit. Wait, no! I mean Punched! Fuck, I suck!

If this flick just promoted normal double-dutch jump rope, I’d be fine. It’s active and it can be done just about everywhere and it’s something most kids can aspire to do. But not here. Here they have to make it extreme. The big competiation at the end has people flipping about and spinning around like it’s the outtakes reel for You Got Served or some such shit while terrible teeny-bopper rap that explains the emotional states of the characters booms in the background and all the quiet, gentle credibility the movie fought hard to obtain goes stright out the window. You don’t need that! I get wanting to seem extreme, I really do. I think it’s misguided, but if being extreme gets a few kids off the couch and outside playing, then good on that. I just think it’s more feasible that a kid’s gonna see normal jump-rope as doable, and see this bastardized, Dance 360-ish nonsense as further impetus to see what’s on TV. It’s just not as relatable.

So that’s my beef with an otherwise innocuous movie. I guess it gets a sort-of recommendation; you could do a lot better (Akeelah and the Bee, anybody), but you can always do worse.

Just can it with the extreme kick, huh?

The Package

The transfer here is solid, if pedestrian, visually, accurately represrnting what the flick must have looked like when it premired on the Disney Channel, and the sound definitely boosts the bass on the crappy rap. Goody. No surprise, the box has been designed to resemble extreme dance flicks like Take the Lead or Step Up, with the jump rope aspect cleverly underplayed (making it look like Bleu and Palmer are jumping through the one ring of Mordor), only confirming my problem with the film.

As for special features, the best starts up right away: a preview for Pixar’s upcoming Ratatouille. This one looks uber-cool, even with Patton “The Douche” Oswalt’s predictably grating presence (Do I lose my geek card for that one?). It’s all downhill from there. We get a pair of shitty music videos that really only serve as extended trailers (if you watch the Disney Channel at all, you know the style), a multi-part documentary designed to teach the moves from the film that lasts all of 20 minutes and is wholly useless in terms of teaching, and a “making of” that runs about 6 minutes and confirmed my worst fear: again Canada doubles for New York! Why? No one falls for it!

This is a mediocre flick, but it’ll do for a lot of kids regardless of what I or anybody else says. It’s pretty much the defintion of a review-proof (not death-proof, although Lord knows this flick could use some Kurt Russell and Zoe Bell to spice things up) flick, which makes my job fun. Gotta love these kinda flicks…

I think when hiring an MC for a children’s event, one should always pick the guy who looks the most like The Archbishop Don The Magic Juan.

6.5 out of 10