"21 and Over is everything you expect it to be; funny at times but mostly just uncomfortable"
21 and Over is everything you expect it to be; funny at times but mostly just uncomfortable. This time, The Hangover’s Jon Lucas and Scott Moore have gone back to college, telling the story of two guys, Miller (Miles Teller) and Casey (Skylar Astin), who surprise an old friend for his 21st birthday.
The birthday boy, Jeff Chang who is played by Justin Chon, has a big interview the following morning and yet is coerced into going out by his two buddies for a couple of drinks – clearly a disaster waiting to happen. The night, as you might anticipate, spirals rapidly out of control, forcing the boys on the run from a Latina sorority, the male spirit squad captain, Jeff’s father and, of course, the cops, all the while drinking their bodyweight in light beer and hitting on women who are quite clearly 25 and over.
The film follows closely the narrative blueprint that Lucas and Moore used in The Hangover. Miller and Casey spend the majority of the night trying to either locate Jeff Chang or his apartment. The resolution, of course, mirrors that of The Hangover in that the answer was right under their nose the entire time. Unlike in The Hangover, however, this proves to be more frustrating than anything else. Furthermore, the film’s total lack of semblance to college life is indicative of how 21 and Over continually misses the mark. Unfortunately the film’s three leads are missing the chemistry of the Cooper-Galifinakis-Helms trio, each of whose distinct personalities and characteristics make for a powerfully funny combination.
Lucas and Moore fail to develop their 21 and Over characters beyond their names, ages and cultural stereotypes, meaning that many of the jokes fall flat. In fairness to the actors, however, Teller, Astin and Chon do their best with what they’re given and the laughs that are to be had are largely down to them, as their performances are indeed one of the film’s redeeming features (that and the film’s recurring use of a heavy bass during drinking montages).
Profane and predictable, 21 and Over is far from original or even particularly humorous. The film also makes you wonder, who exactly were Lucas and Moore hoping to target? Too inappropriate for younger of teenagers and too dumb for anyone who’s old enough to drink (by UK standards), it’s hard to say who Lucas and Moore thought would enjoy it. In addition, the movie feels like a bad cross between The Hangover, Superbad and Old School, all of which feature much stronger premises, smarter scripts and funnier performances.
So although 21 and Over has its moments, sparse though they may be, by the end of the film you’re left wondering: is that it? Failing to capture the wild, free and potentially shocking side to turning 21 in college, Lucas and Moore have made a tired and somewhat contrived film instead.