Review: 21 & Over (2013)
Editor’s Note: 21 & Over opened on March 1st
Jon Lucas and Scott Moore make their directorial debut with 21 & Over; Lucas and Moore are riding the wave from one good movie: The Hangover. They have written a handful of lazy, humorless movies including The Hangover II, The Change-Up and—now—21 & Over. Have you wondered what The Hangover cast would look like if you took a few of the characters and observed them in their college years? Lucas and Moore wondered the same and ran with it.
Lucas and Moore are riding the wave from one good movie: The Hangover. They have written a handful of lazy, humorless movies including The Hangover II, The Change-Up and—now—21 & Over.
Miller (Miles Teller) is a loud mouth, obnoxious guy without a filter. Casey (Skylar Astin) is on his way up, graduating from Stanford with a job lined up after college. The birthday boy is Jeff Chang (Justin Chon), poised for a career in medicine. The boys are longtime friends and get together to celebrate Jeff’s 21st birthday the night before he must attend a medical school interview. Throughout the film Miller cracks unfunny, tasteless jokes about various races as well as a barrage of chauvinistic remarks. None of the jokes are off-limits in the hands of a skilled writer, but these serve only to shock the audience. Within five minutes Miller insults the ethnic background of both Casey and Jeff, and every race and culture they meet along the way.
Casey is a soft-spoken, well-mannered guy with a bright future. He meets Nicole (Sarah Wright), and the two immediately hit it off. The two of them are separated due to an untimely bar scuffle between Miller and a couple of male cheerleaders. Don’t worry, Nicole shows up at every location in the film, no matter how unlikely the scenario. The audience is treated to a montage of party scenes and bar hopping. Eventually Jeff becomes so drunk he blacks out to the point that he’s incoherent when Miller and Casey ask for directions back to his home. The second act transitions to a Weekend at Bernie’s scenario, Miller and Casey carrying their passed-out friend.
As the film moves along the jokes and setups become more predictable due to the one-dimensional nature of each character. Once the audience learns how each character operates nothing in the film is a surprise.
The second act delivers a few chuckles, but nothing funny enough to earn a laugh out loud moment. Miller and Casey stumble to and from random frat houses, bars and various locations on campus. There are a few running jokes that run their course after the second delivery. As the film moves along the jokes and setups become more predictable due to the one-dimensional nature of each character. Once the audience learns how each character operates nothing in the film is a surprise. It does take an odd turn at one point, transforming into an after-school special. The change in tone and pace is hinted at throughout the film, and when it arrives things become more dull and distracting. The film would benefit from a pedal-to-the-metal approach to comedy as well as more careful approaches to crafting a good joke.
Hopefully no audience members are offended by the crude jokes. A wise man once said that being offended gives someone else power over you. Just remember the writers are one-hit wonders who will continue to crank out the same contrived jokes. If you feel compelled to check out this comedy wait for VOD/DVD, gather some friends, have some drinks and see if you like it. This is not a must-see on the big screen. As a comedy, the laughs are non-existent.