|21 & Over
Starring: Justin Chon, Skylar Astin, Miles Teller
A year ago, the first movie I ever reviewed for Get the Big Picture was a little film called Project X. Your prototypical high school party film where the trailer is quick to point out that this movie is so outrageous your jaw will still be on the ground hours after watching the movie. But the only thing left hanging is the regretful feeling you have for falling for the films advertising claims. I thought I had learned my lesson, I thought that my bullshit radar would go off the minute the words “so outrageous” would be uttered for any comedy, But I have a little secret to share. I’m kind of a sucker for movies if this ilk, especially ones that are “outrageous”. But I kept telling myself to proceed with caution from here on out, no need in getting burned again. Be an adult, learn your lesson. These movies might not be for you anymore Craig. Then I saw the trailer for 21 & Over.
21 & Over isn’t as obnoxiously bad as Project X or American Reunion or That’s My Boy. In fact, if the writers and directors of this movie, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, had maybe done more than one draft of this script, they probably wouldn’t have reached the glorious heights that were The Hangover, but they certainly could’ve crafted something better than the Hangover II. But hindsight is 20/20 right fella’s?
The premise for 21 & Over is overly simple (but aren't they all with type of premise). Two friends, Miller (Miles Teller) and Casey (Skylar Astin) go and visit their friend Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) at his non-descript college on his 21st birthday and take him to get, to quote Cal Naughton Jr, “hammered drunk”. But Jeff has a big interview the next day for medical school and overwhelming pressure from his dad to do well in the interview. Will that stop Jeff Chang? No it won’t.
What follows is shot after shot of Jeff Chang getting “hammered drunk” and Miller and Casey toting him around like this a remake of Weekend at Bernie’s. Maybe they should’ve just made remake of Weekend at Bernie’s, Lucas and Moore were, probably unconsciously aware of this fact, about 2/3rds of the way from this being a Weekend at Bernie’s remake…no joke. Casey meets a girl; your Cameron Diaz from There’s Something About Mary type who has a boyfriend. But will that stop her from flirting with Casey? No it won’t. Will it help make this movie any better? No it won’t.
21 & Over tries to develop the characters. Jeff Chang isn’t all that he appears to be; the stuff with his dad and the possibility that he may be suicidal or tried to kill someone. The 3 friends, all best buds in high school, haven’t exactly been in touch since high school. But these points aren’t developed and are only really used as throwaway lines for the characters. And for all aspiring screenwriters out there; yes this is a movie where the selling point is trying to be “outrageous” (but really, everything that you dig has already been done) so it comes down to the likability and development of the characters. Sure you can have your party guy, your uptight guy, and the shy guy who comes out of his shell, but give them life. That’s very simple thing will either sink or sail your “outrageous” comedy and actually make it a comedy.
21 & Over doesn’t have any of this. Just a bunch of drinking, Weekend at Bernie’s homage’s, Jeff Chang peeing on people, beer pong, a shot of Jeff Chang’s penis, more drinking and not one laugh coming from the theater. Kinda need that for comedy right? Do I need to stop getting roped into these movies? Yes I do. Will I ignore that last sentence and secretly hold out hope for the next one? You bet I will.