×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘21 and Over’

This dumb-fun debut from the 'Hangover' scribes applies roughly the same formula to a younger cast

If you can’t imagine anything funnier than the sight of a drunk Asian-American streaking in a pink bra with a teddy bear glued to his junk, that’s OK, neither can  “21 and Over” writer-directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. The pair, credited with scripting “The Hangover,” apply roughly the same formula to a younger cast in their dumb-fun directorial debut. Promising crude straight-boy humor, but delivering sensitive buddy moments and tons of male nudity, this by-the-numbers gut-buster looks slick, moves fast and packs enough laughs to enliven spring-break receipts and earn its helmers more work.

The paradox of America’s minimum drinking age is that it requires would-be boozers to be 21 years old before they’re allowed to act like irresponsible children. Tonight’s the night for Jeff Chang, an unfortunate Chinese stereotype (played by Korean-American “Twilight” actor Justin Chon) who’s tired of being mistaken for a teenage girl by bouncers, and even more fed up taking orders from his demanding dad (Cambodia-born Francois Chau), who expects him to follow the family tradition and become a doctor.

With his two closest high-school buddies, Miller (Miles Teller) and Casey (Skylar Astin), in town to celebrate, the newly 21 overachiever can’t resist defying authority, never mind that tomorrow is the med-school interview that determines his future. For once, JeffChang — whose friends always refer to him by his full name — wants to spend an evening worthy of a college-movie montage. And so he does, flashing his ID at skeptical bouncers (and flashing a lot more at the crowd of girls at a local bar), doing shots and tossing his cookies while riding a mechanical bull.

This is the stuff memories are made of — or, in the “Hangover” tradition, the stuff wild-and-crazy characters can’t remember when they sober up the next morning. “21 and Over” begins with Miles and Casey strolling across Northern Pacific U. naked, save for a pair of strategically placed tube socks. It’s the morning after the birthday festivities, and the two agree never to mention what happened the night before, which of course is the directors’ cue to replay every loony detail over the next 90 minutes.

Some may wonder how Miller, Casey and JeffChang ever came to be friends in the first place, though the idea seems to be that college serves to redefine priorities and separate once-close bonds. Casey is the responsible one, making plans for a promising internship in New York over the coming summer, while Miller remains the group’s instigator, a role well suited to the charismatic Teller, a movie star in the making who amplifies the energy of his recent “The Spectacular Now” role to almost oppressive ends. JeffChang has no on-campus friends to speak of, which makes it tricky when he passes out drunk, leaving his two inebriated pals trying to find his home. Lucas and Moore approach this quest with all the seriousness of a true hero’s journey, putting Miller and Casey through a gauntlet of challenges to get their friend back in bed.

The script operates by drunk logic, relying on brisk editing and of-the-moment song choices to race past any opportunity auds might have to question the characters’ reasoning, while allowing for such shenanigans as raiding a Latina sorority, crashing a latenight spirit rally and mastering a series of rowdy drinking games in the quest to return JeffChang home. While the solution is staring them in the face all along, the characters wouldn’t have had such an intense opportunity to re-examine their friendship or, in Casey’s case, discover romance, courtesy of a toothy coed (Sarah Wright) whose dimples have more dimension than she does.

If raunchy college comedy “Road Trip” was enough to launch Todd Phillips’ career, this play-it-safe debut delivers, but doesn’t exactly surprise, proving Lucas and Moore like their protagonists wasted, but not their opportunities.

21 and Over

Reviewed at Regency Village Theater, Los Angeles, Feb. 21, 2013. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 93 MIN.

A Relativity Media release and presentation in association with SkyLand Entertainment, Virgin Produced of a Relativity Media, Mandeville Films production. Produced by David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, Ryan Kavanaugh, Hugo Shong. Executive producers, Tucker Tooley, Jason Beckman, Jason Colodne, Jason Felts, Ron Burkle, Luo Yan, Andy Yan, David Manpearl.

Directed, written by Jon Lucas, Scott Moore. Camera (Technicolor, widescreen), Terry Stacey; editor, John Refoua; music, Lyle Workman; production designer, Jerry Fleming; set decorator, Linda Lee Sutton; costume designer, Christine Wada; sound (Dolby Digital/Datasat), Robert Marts; supervising sound editors, Mandell Winter, Javier Bennassar; re-recording mixers, Leslie Shatz, Colette Dahanne; special effects coordinator, Casey Pritchett; visual effects supervisor, Tim Carras; visual effects producer, Josh Comen; visual effects, Comen VFX; stunt coordinator, Mike Smith; assistant director, Bruce Terris; second unit director, Tony Grazia; second unit camera, Stephen McGehee; casting; Nancy Nayor, Stephen Salamunovich.

With: Miles Teller, Skylar Astin, Justin Chon, Sarah Wright, Jonathan Keltz, Francois Chau, Russell Hodgkinson.

Film Review: ‘21 and Over'

More Film

  • PGA Awards Winners Announced Live

    PGA Awards: 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' Wins Animated Film Prize

    Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” has won the animated movie award at the Producers Guild Awards. The fifth season of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” repeated as the winner of the Live Entertainment and Talk category. The second season of “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” took the David L. Wolper Award [...]

  • Netflix HQ LA

    Andy Gruenberg, Veteran Film Executive, Dies at 68

    Veteran film executive Andy Gruenberg, who most recently oversaw theatrical distribution at Netflix, died suddenly on Friday. He was 68. Gruenberg worked on classic films like “Ghostbusters,” “Karate Kid” and “Silverado” while at Columbia Pictures in the 80s and 90s. More Reviews Film Review: ‘Dragon Ball Super: Broly’ Film Review: 'Who Will Write Our History' [...]

  • Fyre Festival Caterer Receives Thousands in

    Unpaid Fyre Festival Caterer Raises Thousands in Donations on GoFundMe

    As two Fyre Festival documentaries hit the airwaves, a couple who say their credit was ruined due to the Fyre Festival’s lack of payment for their services have raised $54,381 at time of publication on GoFundMe. Elvis and Maryann Rolle wrote on their page that they catered “no less than 1000 meals per day” in [...]

  • DF-10956_R – Gwilym Lee (Brian May) and

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Producer Confirms Bryan Singer's Reason for Leaving, Says 'No One' Was Attached to Play Mercury

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King provided insight into some of the events surrounding the Golden Globe-winning film Saturday at the Producers Guild Awards Nominees Breakfast, including director Bryan Singer’s departure from the film partway through production. “It’s an unfortunate situation, with like 16, 17 days to go and Bryan Singer just had some issues, his [...]

  • Author Tony Mendez arrives at the

    Tony Mendez, Former CIA Officer Depicted in 'Argo,' Dies at 78

    Tony Mendez, the former CIA technical operations officer who orchestrated the 1980 rescue of six American diplomats from Iran and who was portrayed by Ben Affleck in the Academy Award winning film “Argo,” has died. He was 78. Mendez’s book agent, Christy Fletcher, announced the news on Twitter Saturday morning. More Reviews Film Review: ‘Dragon [...]

  • Glass Movie

    'Glass' to Rank in Top 3 MLK Debuts With $48 Million

    M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” is on its way to a solid debut with an estimated $48 million for the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. A sequel to 2000’s “Unbreakable” and 2017’s “Split,” the Universal superhero thriller should bring in around $41 million from 3,841 domestic locations over the Friday through Sunday period. The estimates are [...]

  • China's 'Three Adventures of Brooke' to

    China's 'Three Adventures of Brooke' to Hit French Theaters (EXCLUSIVE)

    Midnight Blur Films has signed a deal with French distributor Les Acacias to release Chinese arthouse drama “Three Adventures of Brooke” in France this year, the Chinese production company told Variety on Saturday. A release date has yet to be set for the film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival and stars Chinese newcomer Xu Fangyi [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content