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21 and Over

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  • 21 and Over

    21 and Over (2013)
    Justin Chon, Miles Teller, Skylar Astin.

    I am the only person I know who did not find The Hangover the least bit funny. Don’t ask me why, because I have no idea. I wasn’t offended by it; I didn’t think it was low-brow or stupid. I just wasn’t entertained by it. And until moments ago, I didn’t know that the writers (and directors) of 21 and Over also wrote The Hangover, but it was clear that both movies had the same creative parentage somewhere, even if the relationship was merely by marriage or adoption. This is why it surprises me that I found myself laughing aloud multiple times at this newer film.

    I have not laughed at vomit in a film since Stand by Me in 1986, and even then it wasn’t the vomit so much as the narrative voice that described the vomit. It wasn’t funny in 50 First Dates when it was a walrus doing the spewing; it wasn’t funny in I Love You Man even though Paul Rudd did it on Jon Favreau; it wasn’t even funny in Pitch Perfect when the quiet Asian girl made snow-angels in it on the floor. But there is a vomit scene in 21 and Over that I admit I laughed at, and I laugh at it still, even in retrospect: Super slo-mo vomit. On a mechanical bull.

    Sorry if you consider that a spoiler. But someone had to tell you.

    I laughed, too, at several other scenes. There is a certain thread of meanness that runs through The Hangover, and that’s completely absent in this movie. The main characters are nice people just out for a good time; nobody’s doing it to hurt someone else, or to get away with something, or to behave in a way that needs Las Vegas or someone’s wedding as an excuse. This niceness gives the film an overall pleasant tone that makes it much easier to find teddy bears glued to privates or navel-shots taken from the tummies of fat guys funny.

    It’s Jeff Chang’s twenty-first birthday, and his friends Casey (Skylar Astin, who was Anna Kendrick’s love interest in Pitch Perfect) and Miller (Miles Teller, who was Willard in the Footloose remake), insist on taking him out for a night of partying, despite the fact that Jeff has the medical-school interview of a lifetime the following morning. Jeff cuts loose, mostly at Miller’s urging, and passes out. Miller and Casey are unfamiliar with the neighborhood Jeff’s school is in, so they begin a drunken quest to find Jeff’s home, sober him up, and get him ready for the interview before his very-scary dad picks him up the next day.

    The film does a decent job of trying to make this also a film about the way friendships change when good friends go to different colleges. Miller has dropped out of college; Casey is going to Stanford; Jeff is having problems of his own at whatever school he’s in. The friends actually pause a few times and wonder if they’re actually still friends, or if they’re just past friends who still get together once in a while. But don’t let those few moments of rumination throw you: it’s a drunken college-students movie, and I found it unexpectedly entertaining, the way it seems everyone else found The Hangover.

    One other positive thing I will say about this movie: I was encouraged by the fact that for such a profane movie, there is a noticeable lack of sex. Drunkenness and sex are not a funny combination, and while there are a few scenes that flirt with the line, the drunken people themselves are never involved. The profanity and vulgarity manage to thrive in a largely sexless movie.

    7/10 (IMDb rating)
    70/100 (Criticker rating)
    But I'm disturbed! I'm depressed! I'm inadequate! I GOT IT ALL! (George Costanza)

  • #2
    Re: 21 and Over

    Cool, thanks for the warning.
    I'll pass.
    Be Yourself. Everyone Else Is Taken!
    ~ ~
    Spreading the virus of ALOHA.
    Oh Chu. If only you could have seen what I've seen, with your eyes.