When it came to writing a review about 21 & Over I thought about simply posting a link to my review of The Hangover and calling it a night.
After all, the writer/directors of this college-set tale of drunkenness and strained friendship were the same people who penned the story of a Vegas-set tale of drunkenness and strained friendship (Jon Lucas & Scott Moore). Although there is no fourth friend here, even The Hangover really was just about the three best friends that anyone could have. The same is true of 21 & Over, with Miles Teller playing the Bradley Cooper role (with a touch of Galifiankis), Skylar Astin playing the Ed Helms role (with a touch of Bradley Cooper), and Justin Chon as Justin Bartha (with a touch of Galifiankis).
Confusing? Yeah, well what it meant to me is that Lucas & Moore basically understand a limited set of archetypes and were hoping this would recapture the same lightning in a bottle. But much like the problems inherent in The Hangover Part II, this suffers slightly from taking the same pig and putting it a barely different dress. Let’s take a look at the similarities and replaced elements shall we?
● The movie starts with a scene from the end and then rewinds so the audience can see how things went astray.
● Rather than Heather Graham as a stripper who marries one of the guys, we have Sarah Wright as a sexual tease that Astin tries to hook up with throughout the movie.
● They’ve traded a tiger for a bison.
● Instead of a montage of the guys playing blackjack to raise money, we’ve got a montage of the guys bar-hopping as Chon descends closer and closer to alcohol poisoning.
● In both, it’s a general mystery as to how these completely diverse personalities were ever friends to begin with, and throughout they constantly test the limits of that friendship.
● In Vegas, it was Ken Jeong and his lackeys chasing the fellas because they stole his purse. Here Jonathan Keltz and his lackeys are chasing the fellas because they stole his phone.
The list actually could continue but I’ve got a lot to do this weekend. The most ridiculous thing of it all though is that I liked this movie. Ha ha! Twist! You thought all that negativity would go another way. That’s why you’ve got to read the whole review!
Now, I’m not going to say it’s perfect, nor is it anywhere as good as The Hangover. For a rated-R movie about debauchery in college, this is sorely lacking in pushing the boundaries of the rating and could use far more nudity, ANY sex, and should not have thrown in a super serious dramatic angle about Chon’s mental health that brings the movie to a screeching halt every time it’s mentioned.
Still, there are plenty of funny jokes and embarrassing situations. Teller and Astin play off of each other well (except when the script tries to grow a brain now and then) and Chon does a nice job of being that kid who gets a little crazy when the alcohol takes over. If you liked Project X and The Hangover, this falls somewhere in-between the two and exceeded my lukewarm expectations. It doesn’t have that feeling of being a comedy that will stand the test of time but it’ll do for right now.
Also, just for good measure, let me write “The Hangover” one more time. I apparently didn’t take the time to write gooder.
21 and Over hit theaters on March 1, 2013 and is rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, some graphic nudity, drugs and drinking.