Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) is turning 21, so his friends Miller (Miles Teller) and Casey (Skylar Astin) blaze into his college town to take him out for a night he will never forget. The trouble is that Jeff’s father has other ideas.
21 & Over comes from the writing and directing team that brought us The Hangover and, while this sounds like a dream combination – teenagers and The Hangover guys – remember that the second Hangover movie was nowhere near as good as the first.
Astin and Teller play the sensible and the obnoxious friends, respectively. Neither one is allowed to develop the character beyond the bounds of the obvious, so Casey spends the film chasing after a girl with a boyfriend, and Miller is drunk, obnoxious and slightly rapey for most of the film. Justin Chon, as Jeff, spends most of the film unconscious or running, so he certainly never gets a chance to develop the character. That is, until the final 15 minutes, when Jeff suddenly becomes a different, more confident person and finally puts his foot down with regard to his future.
So the characters are not that well developed, but this is not a slow burning drama, this is a film about all night drinking and madcap situations, and there are certainly plenty of both. Within the first half hour of the film, we are treated so a slow motion vomit scene, and a character urinating while standing on the bar, so this should give an idea of what the film is aiming for; lowest common denominator. There seems to be a belief in cinema at the moment that, in order to be funny and speak to teenagers, the film must focus on the ridiculous and forget any attempt to tell story or define characters. Congratulations then, 21 & Over, you have succeeded.
I know I am not the target audience for this film, but even when I was in my late teens, I cannot see myself running to the cinema to watch a bunch of obnoxious man-children run away from, or towards, borderline offensive racial stereotypes. That said, there are a couple of laughs through the film, but it is easy to see that these have mostly been inspired by the premise of The Hangover and the best throwaway lines from Anchorman. The Tower of Power looks to be fun, but didn’t they do something similar on Blue Mountain State?
21 & Over is a gross-out ‘comedy’ that will surely play well with some demographic somewhere, it is just hard to see what that demographic is. Perhaps I was too sober to watch this movie, or perhaps I have seen it done better, and in a much funnier way, in BMS. Either way, 21 & Over felt unoriginal and uninspired.