Depending on your level of political correctness, you’ll either find 21 & Over to be the funniest movie since its doppelganger Project X, or a vile and utterly despicable movie that’s obscenely racist, misogynistic, and homophobic (and that’s within just the first ten minutes).
Check that– there’s no debating the fact that 21 & Over is racist, misogynistic, and homophobic; it’s just a question of whether you find that to be entertaining and worth your money.
I know, I know– I’m that “old timer” that today’s young whippersnappers roll their eyes at, right? Fine, but do we really need movies that want us to find glee in sorority sisters being told to make out with each other, a drunk guy peeing on people, and the same guy vomiting in super slo-mo while riding a mechanical bull? How about if we get a close-up extended shot of the same guy eating a tampon? What if he runs around town wearing nothing but a bra and a well-placed teddy bear for a codpiece?
The directorial debut for The Hangover (1 and 2) screenwriters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, 21 & Over follows the exact same formula as those Vegas romps. We start with college kids Miller (Miles Teller) and Casey (Skylar Astin) walking across campus wearing nothing but a tube sock, before flashing back to “one day earlier”, just so we can see what kind of craziness led to this.
Turns out the pair have just arrived in town to celebrate the 21st birthday of their buddy Jeff Chang (Justin Chon). The fact that they call him their “little yellow buddy” and religiously refer to him as Jeff-Chang (as if it’s all one word) are the first signs of exactly how this movie is going to go down. This, of course, is immediately after we get to sit through a conversation between Miller and Casey about who is going to “do” whose sister first.
Lucas and Moore actually do have some funny in them (and by that I mean the good kind of funny); there are more than a few brilliant lines scattered throughout– many of which come courtesy of a male cheerleader named Julian (Daniel Booko). But it seems like every step forward is followed immediately by something two-steps-back.
The real shame in all of this is that Teller and Astin actually have some talent. Astin was particularly good as Jesse in last year’s Pitch Perfect, and Teller (who seems to be channeling his inner Vince Vaughn) overcomes his character’s profound unlike-ability and vile dialogue to show that he actually has some chops. Someday, I imagine he may even look back on all this and roll his eyes at what he did during his young whippersnapper days.