Review: 21 and Over
It probably shouldn't come as a surprise that the team that delivered the ultra sophomoric Project X would create another stinker in the new movie 21 and Over. It isn't quite the mess that Project X was, and not being a found-footage film, it's more structured and therefore at least slightly better than the mangled mishmash released last year. 21 and Over already had a lot going against it, and to see it cleverly deliver a few laughs was a pleasant surprise, but it still has the same level of immaturity and homophobia as its predecessor, plus an out-of-nowhere romantic ending it doesn't deserve.
This time around, instead of three high-school losers desperate for popularity, the three leads are in college. The character of Miller (Miles Teller, also in Project X) is a mashup of the three Project X losers mixed with a crappy impression of young Vince Vaughn. His friend Casey (Skylar Astin) is a level-headed senior who's got his eye on his future. Surely there's no way he can be lead astray, right? And finally, Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) is the birthday boy who's more concerned about a med-school interview set up by his oppressive and intimidating father. Jeff doesn't want to go out, but of course he gives in to peer pressure, and then -- as so often happens -- wackiness ensues.
The tone of 21 and Over is actually set pretty accurately from the opening frame. Miller and Casey are walking across a quad stark naked, with a brand on their butts and a sock on their, well, use your imagination (you don't need much for this film). Homophobia humor is ever-present throughout, and that seems to be the only place humor ever emanates from.
As far as the performances of the three leads -- if you've ever wondered what a film would be like with a young Vince Vaughn, a young Ken Jeong and combo of young Jason Bateman and Old School Luke Wilson, this will make you regret ever wondering such a thing. Once you hear Miller's rants, or see drunk Jeff Chang drunkenly parading himself around town while Casey tries to be the voice of reason, you'll get a sense of how hard the actors are trying. However, they're failing to deliver on all levels in this movie.
21 and Over is slightly better than Project X, but that's not saying much. Sophomoric humor isn't funny, and seeing it play out onscreen is like watching an indecisive person with a myriad of choices on a bulletin board throwing darts at it to see what sticks. That doesn't sound like fun, and watching this movie isn't fun either. The few chuckles it brings don't salvage the film, and it's just another wasted comedy opportunity.