21 & OVER
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5)
Miles Teller as MILLER
Skylar Astin as CASEY
Justin Chon as JEFF CHANG
Sarah Wright as NICOLE
Jonathan Keltz as RANDY
François Chau as DR. CHANG
Studio: Relativity Media
Directed by: Jon Lucas & Scott Moore
BY KEVIN CARR
After last year’s colossally dreadful “Project X,” which I declared to not only be the worst movie made in 2012 but also the worst movie ever made in the history of time and forever, one might guess that I’m just a stuffy old fart in my 40s who doesn’t understand these types of all-night party movie.
Not true! I may be an old fart in my 40s, but I can still enjoy a movie like this. And while I was a little nervous about seeing “21 & Over,” I went into it with an open mind. After all, I still enjoy watching high school and college party movies like “Porky’s,” “Revenge of the Nerds,” “Animal House” and “Superbad.”
“21 & Over” tells the story of Jeff Chang (Justin Chon), a college student turning 21 under the insane pressure of his father. His birthday falls on the eve of his critical medical school interview, which his father is overseeing, but that doesn’t stop his buddies Miller (Miles Teller) and Casey (Skylar Astin) from taking him out to the bars on campus to get hammered in the most legal way possible. Of course, along the way, they lose Jeff Chang and spend the night trying to find him, keep him safe and ensure that he’ll make it to his medical school interview.
“Project X” was cross-marketed to “The Hangover” with the director of the latter producing the former. Similarly, “21 & Over” was billed as “From the Writers of ‘The Hangover.’”
And that’s the key. There were actually writers on this movie. Writers are so critical in Hollywood, and it’s a shame few people realize that.
Unlike “Project X,” which was a nihilistic, anarchistic, hedonistic binge on partying, “21 & Over” had an actual story to it. Sure, there are party scenes with immature and outrageous behavior, and those are funny. But they are only a part of the film. Behind the shenanigans is a story of three friends trying to stay connected after their glory days of high school. In this sense, it’s not just relateable to college students dying to turn 21 and have the night of their lives. It’s relateable to anyone who has slowly lost touch with old friends.
That leads to a certain amount of heart in the film. Jeff Chang and his buddies are decent guys, and the trouble they get into throughout the film are more results of circumstance than mean-spirited assholery that we see in films like “Project X.”
I couldn’t help but feeling for Jeff Chang and the struggles he’s encountering, and considering the exploding costs of college tuition with an ever-shrinking job market for the college educated, there’s a healthy dose of reality here.
I may not be the target demographic of “21 & Over,” and the movie is not without its flaws (which includes a forced non-romance for one of the characters with a terrible foil as well as some jokes that play out a little too much), but it was a movie I enjoyed… more than I ever thought I would.
The “21 & Over” Blu-ray also comes with the DVD and a Digital Copy of the film, which has become pretty standard with major releases, though always present. It’s pretty slim on bonus features, but that’s to be expected for a movie that doesn’t necessarily rely on geek potential but rather looking for an audience of high school and college students on an inebriated night.
Bonus features include a floor-by-floor guide to the “Tower of Power,” which would probably kill you if you tried to do it in real life. There’s also a gag reel and a spotlight on Jeff Chang’s “Levels of Intoxication,” which logs the different states of drunkenness he faces throughout the movie.