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Review: 21 and Over

21 and Over
Mar. 1, 2013by:
6 10

PLOT: On his 21st birthday, Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) is surprised by his long-estranged best friends from high-school, the uptight Casey (Skylar Astin) and the laid-back, easygoing Miller (Miles Teller). The two take him out for a night of drinking, with the promise that they'll have him home, safe and sound, for an early night of rest so he can nail his med-school entrance interview the next morning. Things don't quite work out that way for poor Jeff...

REVIEW: 21 & OVER comes from Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the writers of THE HANGOVER- which is appropriate, as this is essentially THE HANGOVER-lite. Imagine the guys from THE HANGOVER (minus a Zack Galifianakis substitute) but fifteen years younger, during their college days, and you wouldn't be far off. Teller is the wild-man Bradley Cooper-character, Astin is the uptight Ed Helms-substitute, while poor Chon is the victim of their debauchery- kinda like Justin Bartha in the first film.

Suffice to say, there's nothing even slightly original about 21 & OVER, as truly- you've seen it all before. That said, I'm not convinced that's such a bad thing as the wild drunken party movie has more-or-less become a genre of it's own, and certainly pre-dates THE HANGOVER by decades. When it comes to these kinds of movies, there's really only two things that are important- one, are the characters likable, and two- is it funny?

On the first count, the star trio of 21 & OVER is likable. Your heart goes out to the personable Chon, who we gather is barely keeping his sanity in school, while trying to please his borderline psychotic doctor father. When he goes overboard on the booze- which happens FAST, you want him to make it through the movie in one piece. It's a bit of a stretch though having Chon be so deep into a drunken stupor that he's unconscious throughout huge chunks of the film- to the point that it becomes less like THE HANGOVER, and more like WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S. I don't think I've ever seen anyone THAT drunk, and trust me- I have (too much) experience. Then again, it's a movie so...

With Chon unconscious most of the movie, Skylar Astin and Miles Teller become the de-facto leading men. Both guys are good. I haven't seen Astin in much, but he's fine as the straight-laced one, with his v-neck/tie combos, and internship on Wall Street. He also gets the love interest, played by the drop-dead gorgeous Sarah Wright who, of course, has a boyfriend that's a total psychopath (the type of role none other than Bradley Cooper used to play before breaking out in THE HANGOVER).

Teller more or less steals the show as the wild-man Miller- and it's interesting to see him play a much lighter take on the same kind of role he played (to great acclaim) in the recent Sundance hit, THE SPECTACULAR NOW. Unlike that film, this one wants to make you laugh not make you cry, and he's a pretty talented guy in that he's able to play such extreme variations on what's essentially the same character (more or less).

So- likable characters? Check. But is 21 & OVER funny? For the most part, yes. The first half hour, charting Chon's drunken decline is actually hilarious, but once he's unconscious and the A-plot, being that the guys have to somehow remember where he lives so they can get him home for his big exam- kicks in, 21 & OVER becomes inconsistent. The premise is total BS. I find it a stretch that neither guy, despite having left Chon's house only a few hours earlier, can remember where he lives, especially in the era of smart phones. Still, individual episodes are funny, such as the big dorm party where the guys have to drink their way through eight levels of beer games to see the RA, and an elaborate pep rally, complete with what (I assume) is an animatronic buffalo that looks straight out of DANCES WITH WOLVES.

In the end, 21 & OVER is pretty much on the same level as a movie like PROJECT X. It's nothing you haven't seen before, and it's inconsistent- but, at the same time I laughed enough that I can't not recommend it. It's far from top notch, but as far as these types of movies go, it does the job well enough.

Extra Tidbit: Apparently, the Chinese are getting a radically different, partially re-shot version of the movie. Read about it here.
Source: JoBlo.com

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+8
12:04PM on 03/01/2013
I'm so sick to death of movies like this. Absolute mindless garbage.
I'm so sick to death of movies like this. Absolute mindless garbage.
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11:19AM on 03/01/2013

It looks pretty good.

You said it in the review, the drunken debacle comedy has become it's own genre now. There's a reason they're always slated to come out at the beginning of the summer box office season. They're light, they're fun, they're simple, and they put you in a good mood after having to sit through 4-6 months of deep, methodical, and sometimes depressing story material during the awards season. If the movie is able to achieve the 2 criteria you listed in the review, then why is it not deserving of a
You said it in the review, the drunken debacle comedy has become it's own genre now. There's a reason they're always slated to come out at the beginning of the summer box office season. They're light, they're fun, they're simple, and they put you in a good mood after having to sit through 4-6 months of deep, methodical, and sometimes depressing story material during the awards season. If the movie is able to achieve the 2 criteria you listed in the review, then why is it not deserving of a better grade? I haven't seen it, so I can't say if it is deserving of a better grade, just seems odd that you would rate it so low when you said it met the necessary criteria and your criticisms were pretty few.
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+2
11:13AM on 03/01/2013

Want to see the Chinese version to compare

While I do agree that this doesn't look that original it could still warrant a late night view, what's interesting is that I read an article a few weeks back on the Chinese funding for this movie that necessitated a different cut for Chinese audiences, complete with a different beginning and ending, even adding an anti-American slant to it. Would make for an interesting comparison.
While I do agree that this doesn't look that original it could still warrant a late night view, what's interesting is that I read an article a few weeks back on the Chinese funding for this movie that necessitated a different cut for Chinese audiences, complete with a different beginning and ending, even adding an anti-American slant to it. Would make for an interesting comparison.
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+0
11:03AM on 03/01/2013

Want to see the Chinese version to compare

While I do agree that this doesn't look that original it could still warrant a late night view, what's interesting is that I read an article a few weeks back on the Chinese funding for this movie that necessitated a different cut for Chinese audiences, complete with a different beginning and ending, even adding an anti-American slant to it. Would make for an interesting comparison.
While I do agree that this doesn't look that original it could still warrant a late night view, what's interesting is that I read an article a few weeks back on the Chinese funding for this movie that necessitated a different cut for Chinese audiences, complete with a different beginning and ending, even adding an anti-American slant to it. Would make for an interesting comparison.
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8:49AM on 03/01/2013

That's funny

I like to guess what Chris will give a movie for a rating. No joke I've guessed the last 10-12 movies. 6 is what he gives movies he really like but the vast majority of critics don't like because he's scared of be different and not taken seriously as a critic. I have not seen this movie yet, but just based on the critics reviews, you can tell it is probably funny, but Hollywood is starting to backlash against these types of comedies. Now there's this post Oscar hatred for rude comedies, and
I like to guess what Chris will give a movie for a rating. No joke I've guessed the last 10-12 movies. 6 is what he gives movies he really like but the vast majority of critics don't like because he's scared of be different and not taken seriously as a critic. I have not seen this movie yet, but just based on the critics reviews, you can tell it is probably funny, but Hollywood is starting to backlash against these types of comedies. Now there's this post Oscar hatred for rude comedies, and apparently, according to critics, The Hangover, and Ted aren't funny anymore.
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7:12AM on 03/01/2013

Ugh

pass
pass
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5:36AM on 03/01/2013

It is Project X meets Hangover...

I love Hangover 1 and 2. They are hysterical, gross and somehow charming. This 21 and Over movie could almost pass as a prequel to hangover but it lacks the charm that made those other movies work. This movie, you are pretty much watching drunk college idiots run around for two hours. There is no real substance to its story, it is made for people who think watching drunk people is funny.
I love Hangover 1 and 2. They are hysterical, gross and somehow charming. This 21 and Over movie could almost pass as a prequel to hangover but it lacks the charm that made those other movies work. This movie, you are pretty much watching drunk college idiots run around for two hours. There is no real substance to its story, it is made for people who think watching drunk people is funny.
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+3
12:48AM on 03/01/2013
About what I expected. Don't think it's enough to get me in the theater, but enough that I will check it out on dvd.
About what I expected. Don't think it's enough to get me in the theater, but enough that I will check it out on dvd.
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