By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — What a comforting word, over.
As in, “Is it over yet?”
“When will it be over?”
“Thank God it’s over.”
You’re likely to be muttering those phrases to yourself during the cockamamie coming-of-age comedy 21 and Over, which is being marketed as The Hangover for a younger audience.
Unless, that is, you’re enthralled or even entertained by a movie that scoffs at the notion of thoughtful storytelling or that considers partygoing and binge drinking engaging spectator sports.
Justin Chon plays straight-A (and straitlaced) college senior Jeff Chang, whose two best friends from high school, underachieving Miller and overachieving Casey — played respectively by Miles Teller and Skylar Astin — surprise him by dropping in to take him out for his 21st birthday.
The problem is that Jeff Chang (his buddies always use his full name when mentioning or addressing him) has a big medical school interview early the next morning, and his stern father is adamant that he be well rested and fully prepared.
But on this occasion, Jeff Chang decides to throw caution to the wind, to do what he wants to do rather than what he knows he ought to do, and he goes out with them anyway.
And what starts out as a brief one-beer-and-out-of-here celebration turns into a drunken all-nighter.
Debuting co-directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who also co-wrote the script, are best known as the writers of The Hangover, and 21 and Over is certainly a reapplication of the Hangover formula: debauchery, grossness, and desperation — squared.
What isn’t squared -– or even matched -– is the enjoyment quotient.
The main structural difference between The Hangover and 21 and Over, in addition to the characters being younger in the latter, is that the narrative focuses on the night before rather than the morning after.
Now, I realize that I’m not exactly situated in the middle of the film’s target demographic, given that my 21st birthday is just a distant memory. But I can’t escape the feeling that the movie Lucas and Moore have fashioned is aimed at an audience they assume couldn’t possibly get tired of, or impatient with, outlandish grossout bits no matter how often they may be repeated.
Let’s hope they’re wrong. Because if 21 and Over hits the target, Lucas and Moore, having written the same movie twice, may go for the hat trick: 15 and Under, anybody?
So we’ll imbibe 1½ stars out of 4 for this chaotic carouse comedy, 21 and Over. Wake me when it’s over.