Starring: Miles Teller, Justin Chon, Skylar Astin
Genre: Comedy (apparently)
On a night before a vitally important interview, straight-A student Jeff Chang (Chon) is forced on a night out by his two old school friends (Teller and Astin) to celebrate his 21st birthday. What was originally agreed to be one drink soon inevitably becomes a few more and the night becomes a string of inevitable puke gags, racist and sexist clichés etc etc.
You could certainly argue that a cynical 29 year old such as myself is not the target audience for a film like this, but I was young once and can certainly appreciate the humour if it is well written and contains an element of intelligence. I personally really enjoyed Superbad, some of the American Pie films and even find the Harold & Kumar films tolerable. However, for me 21 & Over is both a cynical and painfully desperate film, and another example of the shallow nature of the film industry. The ‘from the writers of The Hangover’ (Jon Lucas and Scott Moore) is plastered all over the posters and DVD covers in huge writing, so yes you are warned in advance as to what the humour is. However, what takes the biscuit for me is the fact that Lucas and Moore (also directing, well a loose definition of that word) feel they can use that and not even have to try.
Every cliché of the genre is ticked off the list in the laziest and crudest way possible as the narrative clunks along at an embarrassing rate. Apparently the fact the character’s name contains the words ‘Jeff’ and ‘Chang’ is so funny that it has to mentioned constantly every few minutes. The contradiction of these names may be slightly amusing the first time, but that is it.
Inevitably there is of course also some underlying theme about our extremely contrived and irritating caricature protagonists learning the true value of their friendship (not a spoiler as it is so god damn obvious), but it is virtually impossible to care by this point. All these clichés combined with slightly puerile humour can be fine if done with intelligence, Superbad was nothing new and certainly had puking in it, but was in my view very well written and acted. It was also, most importantly, genuinely funny.
21 & Over is a pure example of Hollywood complacency and laziness, it is never funny and just extremely irritating. I would strongly encourage anyone avoiding having to endure this terrible and painful film.