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Friday, 15 March 2013

Film review: 21 and Over

Hang on a second: when did March become the month for party movies? Last year we had the aimless, pointless and dull Project X, and this year come March* we get 21 And Over, in which the writers of The Hangover prove they’re not just one-trick ponies by writing (and directing) a movie that’s nothing like The Hangover. For one thing, those guys in The Hangover are way older than 21, right? And sure, this is also a movie about a totally crazy party night in a bunch of guy’s lives, but in The Hangover they were just flashing back to the party the day after, whereas here the party is happening right here and now. Oh, wait, the very start of the movie shows the guys at the end of the night so yeah, in a way this is all one big flashback too.

But this time there’s only two guys: Miller (Miles Teller), the wild, crazy, Jim Belushi knock-off one, and Casey (Sylar Astin), the uptight sensible one. So that bit’s more like Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle. They’ve turned up on campus to help their old high school buddy Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) – you won’t forget that name, as they say it at least sixty times during the course of the movie (I counted) in the kind of running joke that’s not really a joke but they sure run with it – celebrate his 21st, even though his evil dad has told him he has to get up early for a big interview so NO PARTYING. But one drink won’t hurt, right? 

Yeah, right: before long it’s the end of the night, Jeff Chang has passed out (okay, that bit’s like The Hangover too) and his surprisingly sober buddies have to find out where he lives, which is the bit of the film that’s kind of like Dude, Where’s My Car?. Crazy things then happen, but guess what? All the movies this movie is ripping off are better than it, so you’re better off watching them instead. A lot of the crazy stuff here isn’t even that crazy: they have to complete a variety of drinking games to make their way through a multi-story party house, but because our heroes never seem to be affected by alcohol, where’s the drama? 

Various dark hints about Jeff Chang’s current situation (why is he carrying a gun, for starters?) are more dramatic and funny, only the film then wimps out on even the mild drama it’s created for a resolution that’s just a whole bunch of hand waving. But they throw an unconscious guy out a window onto a pool and he goes flying into the bushes! So that bit’s like Weekend at Bernies. On the plus side, Teller is pretty good at selling the average material he’s stuck with here, and there’s just enough chemistry between him and Astin to make it plausible that they’re friends who’ve drifted apart since high school. Oh wait, that doesn’t require any chemistry at all. But they do get to make a couple of hot, blindfolded sorority girls make out! Which is totally worth buying a movie ticket for if you’ve never seen the internet.

*presumably these movies are released in March to teach new university students what is expected of them re: their partying responsibilities. Or, more likely, to torment them with a lifestyle they'll never have, what with having to actually study if they want to have the slightest hope of "making it" in today's post-employment work environment.

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