‘21 & Over’ needs to be carded
BY RICHARD ROEPER SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST February 28, 2013 1:26PM
This film image released by Relativity Media shows, from left, Skylar Astin, Justin Chon and Miles Teller in a scene from "21 & Over". (AP Photo/Relativity Media, John Johnson) ORG XMIT: NYET868
‘21 & OVER’ ★½
Miller Miles Teller
Casey Skylar Astin
Jeff Justin Chong
Randy Jonathan Keltz
Nicole Sarah Wright
Relativity Media presents a film written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. Running time: 93 minutes. Rated R (for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, some graphic nudity, drugs and drinking). Opening Friday at local theaters.
When I tell you “21 & Over” is formulaic, I can’t stress how much I mean it.
Imagine a Raunch-o Comedy Mix-Master blender, filled to the brim with ingredients culled from dozens of movies.
A partial list:
Two parts “Superbad.” Longtime buddies — one semi-nerdy and laser-focused on the future, the other a crude, wisecracking horn-dog deathly afraid of growing up and losing his friends — spend one last crazy night together.
Pinches of “Animal House” and “Revenge of the Nerds.” Gorgeous blond sorority girl dating Aryan-looking, borderline psychopath frat boy develops feelings for a regular good guy.
One part “Sixteen Candles.” Asian character spends much of the movie in a drunken stupor.
Half a slice of “American Pie 2.” Hot women who kissed each other turn the tables and force two male friends to make out.
A splash of “Harold and Kumar.” Stern, stereotypical ethnic father pressures his son to follow in his footsteps, never considering what the boy wants.
Toss in bits and pieces from countless other comedies about guys on the threshold of adulthood having the adventure of their lives, press the “puree” button and presto! Take a swig!
Bleech. Tasteless. Even worse, unfunny.
Written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (two of the writers of “The Hangover”), “21 & Over” knows what it wants to be and (to its credit) never pulls its punches, whether it’s daring us to look away from a slow-motion scene of projectile vomiting or asking us to laugh along with a supposedly likable character who apparently believes the best humor is ethnically offensive humor.
Either you think it’s funny when a character with a blood-alcohol level that must be approaching fatal levels munches on a tampon, believing it to be a candy bar — or you don’t.
Either you’ll laugh uproariously when two stoners strip a passed-out stranger, put him in a bra and glue a teddy bear to his genitals — or you won’t.
Either you’ll be entertained by quick-cut montages of college students playing drinking games — or you won’t.
What’s that? The story?
Here’s the story.
Miles Teller is the beer-chugging, ever-horny, let’s-never-grow-up Miller. Skylar Astin is the exceedingly decent but also ambitious Casey. Justin Chon is Jeff Chang, who is called “Jeff Chang” by his friends throughout the movie, because I guess that’s supposed to be funny but it’s really just the two guys calling the one guy “Jeff Chang” over and over and over. And over.
They were all best buds in high school but now they’re attending separate colleges, and they don’t stay in touch as much as they should. Miller’s hoping that will all change when he and Casey show up uninvited on Jeff Chang’s doorstep on Jeff Chang’s 21st birthday, intending to take Jeff Chang out for a night Jeff Chang will never forget.
Problem is, Jeff Chang’s oppressive father is also on campus, ready to take Jeff Chang to a crucial interview with a medical school at 8 a.m. the next day. (Apparently it never occurred to Jeff Chang or Dr. Chang not to schedule the interview on the morning after the kid’s 21st birthday.)
Anyway. Miller and Casey cajole Jeff Chang into going out for one drink, which quickly turns into more drinks than Jeff Chang or any human, or for that matter, Beluga whale, would be able to handle.
For much of the movie, Jeff Chang is passed out. When he’s awake, he’s an obnoxious lout prone to such stunts as standing on a bar and urinating on the patrons. I preferred the passed-out Jeff Chang to the conscious Jeff Chang.
Once every 20 minutes or so, “21 & Over” made me laugh. Miles Teller puts a good spin on a couple of one-liners. Then there’s Randy, the psychopathic spirit leader and his male cheerleader henchmen, who are clearly in love with Randy: cartoonish but funny. And the lovely Sarah Wright does what she can with the thankless role of the fair damsel who’s dating the main villain only so she can be stolen away by the good guy.
That’s about it. This is one of those 93-minute movies that seem about 88 minutes too long.
Or not worth making in the first place.