21 & OVER Movie Review
As I sat through 21 & Over, written and directed by The Hangover writing team of Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, I couldn’t help but recall my own twenty-first birthday. On that warm Florida night nine years ago, I ventured to Bennigan’s with my mother, a few friends, and my girlfriend, drank Heineken, and laughed at the server trying to compare baby-faced 16-year old me to the fat, hairy man beast trying to legally order a beer for the first time. The rest of the night is kind of a blur, not because I drank too much, mind you, but because it was such a mundane evening that it wasn’t worth committing to memory. One can only hope 21 and Over has the same effect, seeing as how it’s a ridiculously idiotic, mostly unfunny, and rather racist and stereotypical portrayal of Asian American young adults.
21 & Over is basically The Hangover without substance and, well, a good script. Casey (Skylar Astin), the preppy student with aspirations of working on Wall Street, and Miller (Miles Teller), the burgeoning alcoholic desperately clinging to the last vestiges of high school, are two friends reunited after time away at different colleges who seek to take their friend Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) out for a celebratory drink or thirty on his 21st birthday. Hesitant due to an important medical school interview the next morning, Jeff finally relents and naturally drinks too much, prompting his two friends to overcome obstacle (an angry sorority of Latinas) after obstacle (a rampaging buffalo) in an effort to get him home in time for the interview.
The film’s saving grace is Teller, whose rapid delivery of racist, misogynist, and immature dialogue, however sporadic it may be, comprises the majority of laughs throughout the film’s meager hour and a half running time. He works well with Astin, but when the latter is left to his own devices, usually found flirting with a hopeful paramour and mostly expository throwaway named Nicole (Sarah Wright), he’s unbelievably wooden. Rounding out the trio is Chon, who does little more than mumble and vomit throughout the entire film before getting arrested. The first mostly laugh-free hour of everything I hated about college is given some respite in an oddly humorous final act that sees Miller and Casey attempt to bust Jeff out of a hospital while trying to avoid Randy (Jonathan Keltz), Nicole’s passionate and angry male cheerleader boyfriend and his pair of admiring cheermates.
While it’s certainly necessary to suspend disbelief, it’s becoming tiresome to see endless comedies where consequences are ignored in favor of pushing the limits of decency and tact. You can’t shoot a gun in the air and cause a buffalo to rampage through the streets of a college town and not get in trouble. You can’t steal a car and lead cops on a drunken high speed chase in broad daylight. And you certainly can’t piss on an entire bar and not get your ass handed to you by a bouncer or police. The bulk of the scenarios in 21 & Over rely far too much on pushing the boundaries not just of decency, but of reality. It’s impossible to have any sort of connection to the characters or events if none of it is grounded the least bit in reality. If it’s not real, and it’s not even that funny, then what is it? It’s hollow.
21 & Over is just a stupid and unoriginal movie, plain and simple. For the first hour I did little more than sit there and try and count the number of times the word “fuck” was used (30+ by the time I stopped counting, which was about 10-15 minutes in) before just reveling in the sheer awfulness of this mostly humorless trash heap of a film.
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