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The Times
  • Film Review: '21 and Over' and out

  • "21 and Over" (F-)


    "21 and Over" is the type of movie best appreciated by people whose IQs are 21 and under.

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  • "21 and Over" (F-)
    "21 and Over" is the type of movie best appreciated by people whose IQs are 21 and under.
    This film isn’t just bad. It’s violently bad as if the filmmakers want to abuse viewers who aren’t brain-damaged by making the dumbest, dullest, most hackneyed movie ever. They succeeded. Watching "21 and Over" is the cinematic equivalent of being waterboarded. If the Geneva Convention folks saw this abomination, they would condemn it as cruel and unusual punishment.
    The movie marks the directorial debuts of Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who also wrote the script. Or should I say Xeroxed it? They also wrote "The Hangover," which "21 and Over" so blatantly rips off it almost could be considered plagiarism. Can you plagiarize yourself?
    In "The Hangover," friends get drunk, lose one of their buddies and spend the rest of the movie trying to find him. In "21 and Over," friends get drunk, lose track of the address of one of their buddies and spend the rest of the film trying to find it. The originality astounds. There are differences. "The Hangover" involved a bachelor party. "21 and Over" involves a 21st birthday party. More importantly, "The Hangover" was a funny movie. "21 and Over" is decidedly not. It’s one thing to carbon copy a plot but when you carbon copy the jokes, you’re just being lazy. But, hey, a lot of people savor regurgitated humor.
    "The Hangover" also featured likable characters and a talented cast, including Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Heather Graham and Zach Galifianakis. "21 and Over," conversely, features unlikable characters and a cast allergic to talent. Let’s just say that Miles Teller, who plays the "wild and crazy guy" in "21 and Over," will not be confused with Galifianakis anytime soon.
    While both films revel in rude and crude humor, "The Hangover" employs it with a wealth of warped imagination. The film isn’t just being gross for grossness' sake. "21 and Over" is.
    Here are some of the film’s knee-slappers: two characters walk naked through a college campus wearing only tube socks on their naughty bits, another character gets a dart in his cheek and another character urinates in a bar, vomits in a bar, eats a tampon, gets thorns in his behind and runs around town wearing only a pink bra and a teddy bear glued to his naughty bits. For more hi-jinks, a buffalo goes rampaging through a pep rally and characters get spanked with paddles.
    The dialogue is cringe-inducing as characters banter about having sex with each other’s sister, among other riotous topics. Racist and misogynist jokes are part of the mix, too.
    The film reunites three high school friends, Miller (Teller), Casey (Skylar Astin) and Jeff Chang (Justin Chon), who congregate at Northern Pacific University to help Jeff Chang, who is a student there, celebrate his 21st birthday. One of the film’s many hysterical gags is that the birthday boy is always called Jeff Chang.
    Page 2 of 2 - Complicating the party plans is that Jeff Chang has a very important interview in the morning, which his very strict father (Francois Chau) has arranged. But the trio goes partying anyway, spurred on by Miller. When Jeff Chang gets so inebriated, he can’t tell his pals where he lives, he gets dragged from place to place until his home is located. Those places include a pep rally, a Latina sorority and a party where Miller and Casey partake in multiple drinking games. More hilarity ensues.
    The film adds a lame romantic subplot to placate the women dragged to this crud. Casey meets Nicole (Sarah Wright) at a bar and is smitten, but she has a cheerleader boyfriend named Randy (Jonathan Keltz), who happens to be a jerk. Think Casey and Nicole will get together at the end? Casey and Miller also have a falling out. Think they’ll get back together at the end? I’ll never tell. It’s almost like this film is pathetically predictable.
    About the only funny characters here are Randy’s two sycophantic cheerleading pals.
    Lucas and Moore try to give the main characters some dimension, but these attempts appear tacked on and contribute little to the story. As for the duo’s directorial style, they do keep the film in focus and the actors in the frame. It’s point-and-shoot mise-en-scene.
    Tragically, this film should do well at the box office thanks to the Neanderthal demographic and those moviegoers suckered in by the "Hangover" connection. It’s early in the year, but "21 and Over" right now has my vote for worst film of 2013. If a movie more moronic appears on the screen, I’m going to flee to my neighborhood waterboardist.
    "21 and Over' is rated R.
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