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Review: 21 And Over

Kristina Carroll ’16  & Christopher John Falcioni ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff

Miles Teller, Justin Chon, and Skylar Astin star in "21 and Over". Photo Credit: John Johnson © 2011 Twenty One and Over Productions, Inc
Miles Teller, Justin Chon, and Skylar Astin star in “21 and Over”. Photo Credit: John Johnson © 2011 Twenty One and Over Productions, Inc

Being a huge fan of The Hangover, we had mixed feelings about 21 And Over before even seeing the film.  On one hand, it’s exciting to see what ideas the writers of one of the greatest buddy comedies ever has in store, but at the same time we were pretty sure that whatever it was that they had planned was not going to be able to compare to the historic, renowned, fantastic movie in which the “three best friends that anybody could have” go on the journey of a lifetime.  When the movie ended, we were still torn.  Yes, there were some great jokes, but they didn’t stand a chance against those in The Hangover.  And even though movies should stand on their own without comparisons, it’s impossible not to, because the basic plots were almost identical.

For those of you who haven’t seen The Hangover, or weren’t as moved by it as we were and forgot the main idea, here’s a really quick recap:  Four guys go on a trip to Las Vegas for a bachelor party-type celebration.  As soon as they get there, they have a little too much to drink, and wake up the next day completely hung over.  The hotel room is completely trashed, they are wearing little to no clothing, one of them is missing a tooth, and there is a random baby and a tiger with them.  But the worst part of it all is that the soon-to-be groom is missing, and they have absolutely no idea what happened to him.  The three remaining are then forced to retrace their steps and piece together the events of the night before to find their missing friend.

In 21 And Over, college students Casey (Pitch Perfect’s Skylar Astin) and Miller (Miles Teller) surprise their friend Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) on his 21st birthday in hopes of taking him to the bar to (legally) get drunk for the first time.  However, they are disappointed to find him in the company of his overbearing and super strict father Dr. Chang, who tells them that Jeff Chang (whose last name is constantly said throughout the entire movie) is not allowed to go out because he has a very important interview which might land him a career in the medical field, something which his father wants more than anything.  But of course, once Dr. Chang leaves, they go out anyways and end up bar-hopping until Jeff Chang literally passes out from drinking so much.  Right when Casey and Miller decide that it might be a good idea to go home, they realize that they have no idea where they are, or where Jeff Chang lives.  They end up going on a wild adventure to find his house and get him home in time for his interview in the morning.

The two movies were too similar.  They both start off with a group of guys getting drunk after a big celebration.  They both have the same types of characters—the “Asian Guy”, the romantic overachiever who doesn’t really know what he’s doing with his life, and the funny guy.  However, the actors in 21 And Over didn’t really compare to the legendary actors featured in The Hangover (Miles Teller was definitely no Zach Galifianakis).  The stereotypical nerdy Asian character was also nothing new, as an almost-identical character can be found in The Hangover 2.  Instead of the tiger or the monkey that starred in both Hangover movies, 21 And Over tried to one-up them by throwing a buffalo into the story, and that didn’t really work in their favor either as it was forgotten after it’s starring moment.  And in both movies, one of the characters falls in love with an attractive blonde girl and one has to break up with their annoying spouse/boyfriend. One of the most annoying similarities, though, is the ending, where in both films the groups realize that the answer to their issue has been right in front of them the whole time.  Of course, the details in 21 And Over differ from those in The Hangover (and The Hangover 2), but the overall story has stayed the same, making me feel like this movie lacked creativity and originality.

With that being said, there were some things that we enjoyed about the film.  One major thing that 21 And Over had that The Hangover didn’t really have was a serious element.  As Miller and Casey piece together information about Jeff Chang and where he lives, they also learn that he’s gotten into a lot of trouble over the past few years.  After finding a gun in his pocket, and then learning that he was arrested, they realize that there’s something really bad going on with him.  This causes Casey, Miller, and Jeff Chang to evaluate their friendships, and they realize that the three of them have become strangers to each other since graduating from high school.  The romantic element is also much more serious in 21 And Over than Stu’s (Ed Helms) in The Hangover.  It’s much more realistic, and more enjoyable to watch.  It appeals heavily to younger people (who probably saw The Hangover and enjoyed it more than the older target audience), and included a lot of jokes about college life that students would definitely appreciate, nabbing both the younger and older audiences.

Overall, this was just so-so movie.  For the most part, it was enjoyable, and there was a lot of laughter and “ew moments” throughout the entire movie.  But in the end, the jokes are definitely not as memorable as those in The Hangover. Yes, it wasn’t as great as The Hangover, but at the same time, it was better than we thought it was going to be.

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