With 2013 already 1/6th in the books the new releases are still coming to multiplexes at a hot and heavy pace. In "21 And Over" we get to go back to those magical years where our entire lives are ahead of us and the magic of friendship overrides everything.
"21 And Over" is pretty much what we think it is, where straight-A college student Jeff Chang (Chon) has always done what’s expected of him. However when his two best friends Casey and Miller (Astin and Teller) surprise him with a visit for his 21st birthday, he decides to do the unexpected and celebrate with his friends even though his critical medical school interview is early the next morning. What was just supposed to be a beer or two devolves into a night of chaos, over indulgence and flat out debauchery.
From the writers of "The Hangover", make no mistake that in many ways, "21 and Over" is basically the same movie but that's not always a bad thing. Utilizing some very similar set-ups from "The Hangover" films it starts out decently enough as it introduces us to our characters who are either a little wishy-washy or fairly unlikable but the film gets us to main crux of the film fairly quickly as our heroes embark on an evening that at least two out of the three of them will remember. The jokes and setups range from actually pretty funny to lame and predictable, and didn't go into any real new territory. Ultimately the filmmakers kept it very safe going through the bullet points or "stations of the cross" for the raunchy, buddy college movie, it works with a fairly solid young cast, but it is hard to shake the 'Been there, Done that' vibe of the entire proceedings.
The young ensemble cast features some familiar faces including Miles Teller from the "Footloose" remake who just didn't really work as the party hearty wild friend coming off a little more unlikeable then he was supposed seemingly doing a poor version of Stifler from the "American Pie" series of films. Skylar Astin most recently seen in "Pitch Perfect" filled the straight laced friend role fairly well as he finally learns to cut loose a little and Justin Chon who will be recognized from the "Twilight" just has to play the movie hammered, and that's not exactly hard. Everyone in the ensemble worked well enough, and the three leads actually had fairly good chemistry, but when we we're not laughing we are actually a little bored, as everything in this movie has happened before and it will happen again.
At the end of the day, there isn't a single thing in "21 and Over" that is all that bad and it works fine as the rowdy coming of age buddy comedy that has been done many times before. However it would have been nice if the filmmakers weren't so concerned with sticking with the formula so strictly and had branched out a little bit to make a film that was just different enough that it could have been enjoyed a little more outside its target demographic.
2 out of 5 stars.
"21 and Over" is now open in theaters all across the country, check with your local listings for show times.