Friday, March 1, 2013

21 & Over (2013) - Movie Review

From the writers of The Hangover, it's yet another version of The Hangover...

High School buddies Miller and Casey visit their friend Jeff Chang on his 21st birthday. They want to take him out for a crazy night, but Jeff Chang's scary dad (Francois Chau) reminds him that he has an important job interview in the morning.  You know that's not going to stop Miller, who's role is the irresponsible one that's born to party. They talk Jeff Chang into going out.  He drinks a lot, they get lost, crazy stuff happens, they're worried Jeff Chang won't be able to make his job interview.  Get the picture?

When watching 21 & Over you'll constantly get the feeling that you've seen this all before.  This shouldn't be a surprise since the writing and directing team of Jon Lucas and Scott Moore are the same guys that wrote The Hangover.  21 & Over is just a variation on the same theme, and these guys are starting to feel like one trick ponies. I suppose there are lots of writers and directors that recycle themes from movie to movie, but they usually aren't as obvious about it.   As much as I wanted to hate the film for how recycled and silly it is, I kept finding things to laugh at throughout the movie.

21 & Over is rated-R, which is actually a strength in that the humor isn't tame or holds back.  I didn't feel like it was crude for the sake of being shocking or for cheap laughs.  Also, because of the stronger rating, some of the better gags in the film aren't spoiled by the trailer, which is yet another credit to the film.

However, the story doesn't hold up to any kind of scrutiny.  Yeah, I know a movie like this isn't intended to be smart, but just indulge me for a bit.  Like, when Jeff Chang is clearly hammered and being belligerent to bouncers, they are still letting him into bars, when you know they'd never let him in at that point. This is the point where even his friends should have cut him off and called it a night.  Plus, the whole idea of them getting lost in a small college town is pretty hard to believe in the first place.  None of these guys have the address programmed into their phone or something?  Maybe thinking ahead isn't their strong suit.  Also, Miller and Casey are generally sober throughout the film despite drinking heavily themselves.

Then, you think about the timing of how things are playing out, it doesn't work out at all either.  At one point they mention they are only six blocks away from their destination, but then proceed to drive for what feels like an hour.  Couldn't they have walked there faster?  It's after 11 PM when they first realize they are lost, and are talking to people that are wide awake, not drunk at all, but only just on their way to a rally or party.  When they arrive at the rally and then another party, you figure it's gotta be around 2 or 3 AM.  They schedule college rallies after midnight?  Keep in mind, I went to a 'commuter college', so I didn't have the campus college experience that many of you may have.  Maybe this is something that happens all the time.

The trio themselves are pretty stereotypical group of friends.  Miller (Miles Teller is doing his best Vince Vaughn impression) is the boorish one that hasn't grown up, Casey (Skylar Astin as Paul Rudd-lite) is the serious one that's forgotten how to have fun, and Jeff Chang (Justin Chon, in what is basically the Ed Helms role) is the one with the overbearing dad and stressing out with too much studying.  You know the night is going to teach them all a valuable lesson.  Everyone has to learn something in these movies, right?  Then, there's the cute girl that Miles is after, Nicole (Sarah Wright), who conveniently neglects to mention until much later that she has a boyfriend, Randy (Jonathan Keltz), who they've already had several run-ins with.  You kind go between finding these guys a little sympathetic or relatable, to wanting to smack them at times for being stupid.  Overall, I liked their performances, so that kept me watching their adventures to see what happens next.  If everyone would have been totally unlikable there's no way you'd be able to get through the movie.

21 & Over isn't anything new.  It's dumb and crude, but it does have a few good laughs here and there.  If you've enjoyed movies like The Hangover and The Hangover Part II, then this is just more of the same, except with younger actors.  It's not a bad movie to see with some friends, have a few drinks beforehand, and enjoy it for what it is.  It's a matinee if you see it that way, otherwise, save it for rental.

2.5 (out of 5) Death Stars

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