Review: '21 & Over' is Some Raunchy Fun with an 80s Comedy's Heart
by Ethan Anderton
March 1, 2013
Move over, Wedding Crashers, here comes Miles Teller and Skylar Astin, the dynamic comedic duo from 21 & Over. The raunchy party comedy written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (writers of The Hangover) has been marketed to a young crowd with ads on porn sites and the use of the stars Twitter handles throughout various TV spots. And while the film certainly plays to the high school crowd desperate to see an R-rated movie or the college crowd who loves to get drunk and forget thing, 21 & Over is a solid comedy, with flares of 80s favorites, for anyone who remembers the college years, the fear of facing the real world, and the desire for just one more night of partying before adulthood catches up with you. Read on!
Though 21 & Over is certainly a party comedy full of chaos and craziness, Lucas and Moore do a fine job of creating characters that you end up caring about, besides just wanting them to get laid so you can see some boobs. Miller (Teller) and Casey (Astin) are getting together for the first time in awhile to surprise their friend Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) for his 21st birthday. While it's clear the duo have known each other for awhile, the time between them has allowed for changes that put them a bit at odds. Miller is carefree and ready to party while Casey is getting ready to use his last spring break for an internship at JP Morgan. Therefore, the who come to a head when Jeff Chang isn't ready to party due to his big medical exam the next morning, and his father still disapproves of the company he keeps. But it wouldn't be a movie if they didn't get caught up in the night life of college.
The boys have a good time bar hopping, and this is where there's a lot of set up to pay off down the road when Miller and Casey finally decide to wrap up Jeff Chang's party night after he pulls his pants down and pisses on the patrons as he stands on the bar. But they don't know where he lives, and now we have a wacky night of meeting angry Hispanic sorority mobs, douchebag cheerleaders, some cute girls, and an epic competition party called the Tower of Power. It's everything you'd expect from this kind of comedy as there's boobs, wacky tangents with surprising danger, a buffalo and a pretty high amount of male nudity.
Thankfully, Moore and Lucas have taken the time to create a small but significant emotional plot that runs through this chaos as our friends slowly realize they're not the friends they once were in high school. Each of them has their own shortcomings to tackle, and the revelations about their friendship, though predictable, are well-scattered throughout the wild party night which make for a nicely paced coming-of-age tale. There's a touch of The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Animal House and other such teen comedy favorites from the past, even if they film never reaches their level of greatness.
What really makes the comedy land with a splash of energy and entertainmen is the cast. You won't find many familiar faces other than François Chau (Dr. Marvin Candle from "Lost") as Dr. Chang and Sarah Wright ("Parks & Recreation"), but that works to the film's advantage as all the focus is on our party trio. Miles Teller (who we raved about in The Spectacular Now at Sundance) is a charming and hilarious leading man with the comedic timing, charisma and presence of a young Vince Vaughn and a hint of Matthew Broderick. Meanwhile, Astin (of Pitch Perfect) makes for a great straight-laced counterpart with an everyman sensibility and enough allure for the ladies to swoon. The chemistry between Astin and Teller is right on the money, and they're fast-paced, wordy interaction brings a lot of laughs, though there's also some misses. And while Jeff Chang is passed out for half the movie, Justin Chon has more than his fair share of moments and holds his own with the two leads. It's not quite a McLovin breakout role, but the 32-year old actor will probably pop up again.
21 & Over is better than the alcohol fueled trailer would indicate. It's basically Wedding Crashers meets The Hangover, but the genuine heart of an 80s comedy makes it more than meets the eye. Yes, it's familiar and predictable, but this is the kind of film you love to watch with friends, especially from college, and just share a few laughs. It's nostalgic for the older crowd, celebratory for young people still enjoying college, but more importantly, it's just plain funny. 21 & Over is the simultaneous nightmare and fantasy everyone wants or lived through in college with an entertaining bromance on the rocks brought to life by a dynamic duo of up and coming comedy actors. It's not an instant classic, but 21 & Over is a good time at the movies.
Ethan's Rating: 7 out of 10