Movie Review: “21 and Over”- Only Remotely Funny if Viewed Intoxicated

Written by David Greenberg March 10, 2013

21 and over 1st

“The horror…the horror.”  Although Marlon Brando once uttered these famous lines at the end of “Apocalypse Now”, they were most recently muttered by me as I left the theater having viewed “21 and Over”, directed by Scott Moore and Jon Lucas.  I know that comparing a bad movie to the disaster that was the Vietnam War is a tad of a stretch, but if you watch this movie you’d probably give LBJ a break for a few hours and blame Moore and Lucas for wasting ninety-three minutes of your time.  Then again, comparing the Vietnam War to American bad movies is like comparing apples and trucks.  Well at least the Vietnam era sparked the production good cinema.  Unfortunately I can’t say that “21 and over” falls under the category of good cinema.

Bad Execution

I’ll be the first to tell you, I’m a fan of movies where kids get drunk and do stupid shit.  All of my favorites, whether it is “Superbad”, “Van Wilder”, or “Dazed and Confused” have one thing in common…they’re actually funny.  This is not to say that writer-directors Lucas and Moore aren’t funny guys.  In fact, there were moments in the film where I found myself laughing.  They had a comedy-rich scenario, a cast of guys who I thought were reasonably funny and most importantly, a camera.  It’s really not that hard these days to make people laugh.  The issue is that they overcooked the recipe, tried too hard to be funny, and, in my opinion, failed.

21 and Over

The acting is not to blame

I must say, the blame of “21 and Over’s” failure does not lie with the actors of the film.   I thought that Miles Teller and Skylar Astin’s portrayal of two best friends who reunite after spending time at different universities to take their mutual best friend, Jeff Chang (Justin Chon), out for his 21st birthday the night before his medical school interview, was solid and reasonably well executed.  When I saw Teller’s delivery, he actually reminded me of a young Vince Vaughn with his slightly mean and aggressive style of delivery.  Furthermore, Astin played the part of the shy, conservative, and slightly effeminate best friend quite well, albeit he was slightly boring at times.  What is important to mention is that “21 and Over” should not define these two actors’ careers because they definitely do have some latent potential.  Unfortunately, “21 and Over” does not help their case.

A movie to laugh at…not with

It seems these days that producers think that audiences are stupid and will laugh at anything such as a dart going through a guy’s neck, a bucking bronco destroying a pep rally and weird fraternity/sorority rituals that involve dudes getting paddled and being forced to make-out.  Writers Lucas and Moore just seem to try to make everything a joke without stopping to think of what they are saying.  In fact, most of the time the funniest movies are ones that take their time in setting up the jokes rather than trying to make everything a joke.  In the case of “21 and Over”, the movie itself became a joke and the problem was, I wasn’t laughing with it…I was laughing at it.

21 and Over

I think the issue when projects like these are green-lit is that writers and directors rely too much on shocking the audience into laughter than actually crafting jokes that are witty and smart.  I am not one to get offended easily but when subjects such as leukaemia and suicide eased their way into the dialogue of this film, I felt uncomfortable.  Also, the film just seemed to be something that it wasn’t.  I felt like I was watching a mixture of “Superbad”, “Van Wilder”, and “Old School” that was simply unfunny.  In the end, “21 and Over” lacked its own voice and sunk into the realm of cliché and forgettable.

My Rating: 2.5/10


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