Inane ‘21 and Over’ like a bad hangover
Jeff Chang (Justin Chon), center, gets a full haze treatment on the night of his 21st birthday in the ribald college comedy "21 and Over."
Let's start with the originality and cleverness of the screenplay from co-directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, shall we?
Miles Teller plays Miller, an obnoxious, overbearing Jim Belushi-type kid in their movie "21 and Over." Here's a rundown of his dialogue, pretty much in the chronological order we hear it:
"21 and Older"
Starring: Justin Chon, Sarah Wright, Miles Teller, Skylar Astin
Directed by: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Other: A Relativity Media release. Rated R for drugs, drinking, language, nudity and sexual situations. 93 minutes
"This is awesome! Really awesome!"
"The teachers are pretty awesome here!"
"This is awesome!"
"High school is so awesome!"
"That is awesome!"
"This is awesome!"
"Awesome!" (Note: This was spoken by Skylar Astin as Miller's best pal Casey.)
"I wasn't going to do awesome things in my life!"
"That's awesome, Casey!"
"I have an awesome idea!"
"It isn't an awesome idea!" (Casey, again.)
Lucas and Moore, of course, are famous for writing the funniest movie of 2009, "The Hangover." This might explain why "21 and Over" has its identical structure — guys show up battered, branded, dazed and naked (except for strategically placed tube socks). Then the movie slams into flashback mode to show us how they got to this wretched point.
Former high school buds Miller and Casey arrive at the campus of Northern Pacific University to celebrate the 21st birthday of Jeff Chang (Justin Chon).
Jeff doesn't want to go out because he's got a very important medical job interview in the morning and his fiercely controlling father (a convincing Francois Chou) will be very angry if he blows it.
Finally, Jeff concedes. "One beer!" Right.
Zillions of body shots later, Jeff is blitzed out of his brains, leaving Miller and Casey to get him to his apartment before his dad picks him up at 7 a.m.
But where does Jeff live?
So, "21 and Over" becomes another one of those gross-out nocturnal odyssey comedies (think "Project X," 2012, not 1987) in which crazy, outrageous stuff happens, culminating in a recognition of how special real friends can be.
To be fair, Lucas and Moore know their target audience members and deliver the goods to them: slow-motion projectile vomiting, perky coeds gone wild flashing their breasts, literal toilet humor, Jeff's reported suicide attempt ... what?
"21 and Over" kinda scratches the record shifting from inane stupidity to serious moments. At least Lucas and Moore sprinkle their script with lines from better movies. ("Sweep the leg!" a bully's henchman shouts, borrowing from "The Karate Kid.")
Astin shares a genuine chemistry with Sarah Wright's Nicole, who trades some playful barbs with his character so well that you almost wish this movie were all about them.
Then, "21 and Over" might have avoided the screechy humor of its racist, sexist, homophobic and stereotypical jokes that come out of the characters' mouths almost as much as their earlier meals.
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