Opening this weekend is 21 & Over from the writers of The Hangover who also direct this film. The film’s official synopsis:
Straight-A college student Jeff Chang has always done what’s expected of him. But when his two best friends Casey and Miller surprise him with a visit for his 21st birthday, he decides to do the unexpected for a change, even though his critical medical school interview is early the next morning. What was supposed to be one beer becomes one night of chaos, over indulgence and utter debauchery in this outrageous comedy.
Now I loved The Hangover, saw it twice well before it opened. I even liked the sequel and will be seeing the third. Unfortunately for 21 & Over, it’s closer to Project X (which I didn’t like) than the Bradley Cooper films. What’s most disappointing is, it could have been a good film, it just didn’t know where it wanted to go.
It opens up with a scene that sure, I didn’t need to see, but it makes you start thinking that maybe, just maybe, the film can be another huge over the top comedy. But it never decides if it wants to be The Hangover (buddy comedy) or Animal House (college comedy) and it suffers because of it. There’s aspects of the film that are funny. The party scene where they need to win events to make it to the top to talk to a resident advisor is standard college comedy, but it’s funny. The different things they do to Jeff Chang while he’s drunk are funny, but ultimately it’s too similar to too many other films. There isn’t really one laugh out loud scene or too many lines that people will be quoting for years to come. There’s no “Wolfpack” type scene although there is one scene that did make me dry heave while sitting in my chair.
The start the film, then flashback, then present day, then “I know how to save the day” is a total copycat of The Hangover films. I understand they wrote that movie, but at least change it a little. You didn’t need to start it on present day just to rewind it. Just don’t use the flashback gimmick at all. Plus they mixed in a timeline that never seems to add up (times of day with sunlight or dark skies and people sleeping and others at a pep rally) and you come way to close to Project X than just the buddy comedy. It just never seemed to find itself and couldn’t decide which movie it totally wanted to rip off more. Too many side characters, side stories and plotlines that seemed unnecessary or wasted just didn’t add up to a comedy that I want to recommend to everyone.
I will admit that I liked 21 & Over more than Project X, but that isn‘t saying much. I’d might watch this again two years from now when it hits cable, but I won’t go out of my way to ever own it or anything. I can see it making some money, it is a relatively cheap film and could easily recoup its $13 million budget this weekend. I don’t really know who will like it. It’s a bit too young for the crowd that made The Hangover movies a hit to really get into it. Most of us are well past our college days. It’s not focused enough to be an Animal House, PCU type film for the 16-24 years old of today to love. They will go see it, but I don’t see them loving it per se. It’ll probably open in the top 5, but will probably drop out of the top 10 in a week or two. Remember, if it was a great comedy, it would be opening in the summer and not March 1st. And has Miles Teller always sounded like a younger Vince Vaughn?