21 and Over surprises with endearingly funny plot
There is something to be said for cinemaâs ability to provide an escape. Sometimes you just need to wind down by watching something pointless, unrealistic and â at times â outrageous for a couple of hours.
Hollywood seems to have taken that idea to heart, ushering in another era of mindless entertainment ruled by crude humor about sex, bodily functions and crazy shenanigans.
The newest film to come out of this trend is 21 and Over, which, by its name alone, might carry low expectations for wit or empathy.
Nevertheless, the directorial debut of writer/directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore manages to take a refreshing turn from what is quickly becoming standard Hollywood fare.
The movie centers on the 21st birthday of Jeff Chang (Justin Chon). His two best friends, Casey (Skylar Astin) and Miller (Miles Teller), plan on taking Jeff out to get drunk and laid on his birthday.
The problem is that the birthday boy has an early morning medical school interview the day after his birthday and his controlling father forbids him from doing anything that night other than getting a good nightâs sleep. After Miller convinces Jeff to go out anyway for just one drink, things predictably spiral out of control.
Though there is a pervading sense of immaturity and lack of consequences throughout the film, the underlying message in it is an endearing one: Follow your dreams in life and trust your friends to help you achieve them. For those who come to enjoy the silly hijinks, though, donât worry â the movie still has plenty of juvenile jokes and physical comedy moments (including a scene where a character graphically throws up from drinking, then proceeds to ride on an electric bull).
Panic and hilarity ensue after Jeff eventually passes out from too much alcohol and his two friends must take him home, except they have no idea where Jeff lives. The increasingly desperate best friends try and bring Jeff home, only to be confronted by the challenges of overly angry frat boys, a pack of revenge-seeking sorority girls and a rampaging bull.
Youâve seen this script before. But the layer of realism and touching emotion hidden away underneath the filmâs bells and whistles is what makes it different. Casey and Miller come to the realization that living far away from one another because of college has made them drift apart.
The film also takes the time to explore some pretty dark details about Jeffâs life at school. Though the film centers on Jeffâs 21st birthday, it is the boysâ friendship that carries the film.
Another great thing about 21 and Over is the bawdy, but highly realistic, acting. Teller especially stands out with his cocky, abrasive and selfish portrayal of Miller, a character that you just love to hate because of his egotistical tendencies. Yet, Teller manages to bring heart to the role, inspiring sympathy toward him throughout the film.
Of course, any film centered on a 21st birthday is going to be filled with crude jokes, a couple of seemingly pointless nude scenes and excessive abuse of alcohol and drugs. And this film is no different. Still, much like The Hangover, 21 and OverÂ leaves you feeling energized and a bit disgusted. Thereâs something very satisfying about its ending. The crazy antics in the movie allow audiences to live vicariously through the characters, knowing that they themselves will never have to deal with the consequences of the night.
21 and Over is no great artistic film (though it does include some impressive cinematography and visually beautiful shots). But as far as âbromanticâ comedies go, 21 and Over is definitely up to par with its predecessors and is a pleasant surprise for those going to the theater for mindless droll.