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21 and Over

21 And Over

In Theatres: 
Mar 01, 2013
Running Time: 
1 Hour, 30 Minutes

21 & Over is a tired comedy that never reaches the epic status that it promises.

Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) has just turned 21. Despite the pressure of going out and drinking legally, Jeff has decided to stay inside and sleep before his all too important exam in the morning. That is, until his old friends Miller (Miles Teller) and Casey (Skylar Astin) show up at his door and talk him into going out, despite the demands on Jeff Chang’s tyrant father. After getting Jeff Chang obliterated with alcohol, Casey and Miller attempt to him home without his dad ever knowing. Except, it’s never that easy in teen comedies, is it?

21 & Over AKA The Hangover: The Early Years, Old School: The Earlier Years, or Project X: Before Youtube is pretty clear about what it is with every trailer released: A night of debauchery goes wrong and college students find themselves in the middle of bullfights, hispanic sorority riots and competitive partying. Clearly, this was always meant to appeal to the audiences of the aforementioned movies: The Hangover, Project X, Old School and even American Pie, where Miller’s character is obviously taken from. 21 & Over attempts to create it’s own disaster epic within the lives of these three men but, much like every other comedy within these guidelines, is too afraid to create serious consequences for their trio. I’d love to see a movie blending the two genres of comedy and horror where we watch a group of alcoholics drinking themselves into a stupor, getting into hilarious events and dying off one by one. Because let’s be real, if a jock got rammed that hard by a charging bull, he’s dead. Plain and simple.

Perhaps I’m too jaded for these comedies anymore, but it feels tired. Hell, this genre was tired after The Hangover. Granted, the charm of Skylar Astin’s Casey is a nice negative charge to Miles Teller’s Miller, which creates a decent amount of chemistry among a series of people talking at each other. Even though it’s a nice chemistry between them, it’s not enough to save the picture from keeling over and staying down. The only saving grace for 21 & Over is the plot riddled throughout the runtime, which is a somehow overlong 90 minutes, where Casey and Miller learn that Jeff Change might not be the same person they remember from high school. As the ridiculous events transpire, the duo find really dark information about their third counterpart and spend the rest of the time speculating as to what is really going on with him, at one point considering that Jeff Change might be a part of the Yakuza. Very disappointingly, however, this is all thrown to the fan when addressed towards the finale. An interesting jump-off, but a cowardly dismount.

It’s not easy to dissect this picture as there really isn’t much to it. Instead, perhaps I should explain what might save this “Party Hard’ genre from it’s already buried coffin:
Consequences. Kill off a character. Put severe problems ahead of these characters. In Project X, I was convinced that there was no way to end this young man’s journey unless he was to get murdered by a raging drug dealer or falling off his roof when confronted by helicopters. Instead, his father is proud of him for making friends. OH OKAY. It’s an alright premise when introduced once, but this is at least the fifth entry in the genre of “How hard can these people party and not kill themselves?” comedy. I’m just not buying it anymore.

For anyone who ever watched The Hangover Part II and said “I wish they made more movies like this!”, 21 & Over is the movie for you., you misguided fool! I’m all for a good comedy, but let’s find an original storyline and make these characters feel real by giving them consequences for these actions! Also, Jeff Chang eats a tampon. Didn’t they do that in Frasier?*

*No, they did not.

Ryan Sterritt
Review by Ryan Sterritt
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Cody Endres's picture

I could barely handle watching the trailer, can't imagine having to sit through this film.

wolfkin's picture

I kinda felt like there were consequences in Project X. Problem was you never really felt them on screen. The comedy horror route would nicely fix that solution but I don't want to watch a horror film. For many people that line right there is what will decide if they watch the movie or pass on it.

I do agree that the raging party comedy is getting a bit out of control now. I think Old School was a fun movie, The Hangover had a unique perspective of "after the party", same with Project X where the main character wasn't really the kids in the party but the party itself.

I'm not sure where you go with the party genre now but it sounds like 21 and Up isn't really it. Which is sad because I wasn't turned off by the trailers. I like the party genre and like the slinky metaphor in the Parker review if it works I'm happy, with obviously diminishing returns, to watch it do it's thing.