Warning: if you are easily turned off by racial slurs and obscene humor, stay away from “21 and Over.” If, however, you’re OK with watching the occasional graphic vomiting scene, then by all means, enjoy the solid hour and a half of vile, hilarious entertainment.
“21 and Over,” which opens Friday in theaters, has elements of “The Hangover” woven through it, and for good reason – it’s the directorial debut of Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the duo who co-wrote “The Hangover.” Clearly, these guys are trying to stick to a formula that works: a story about a drunken night of debauchery that’s as ridiculous as it is uproarious.
Their latest project tells the story of a 21st birthday gone absurdly wrong. Justin Chon plays Jeff Chang, the birthday boy with a controlling father and an important interview for medical school scheduled the day after his birthday. But his two high school friends show up at his school ready to party, so what was supposed to be having a quick beer turns into a night of havoc. Jeff gets completely hammered, and his friends are tasked with getting him home and sobering him up before the morning – not an easy thing to do when you’re dodging psychotic sorority girls, a live bull and a violent trio of male cheerleaders.
Yes, the movie sometimes goes a little too far with its hijinks, much like “The Hangover 2.” But one refreshing thing about “21 and Over” is that it at least manages to avoid an overtly stereotypical raunchy comedy by sneaking in a little character development.
Miles Teller plays Miller, the underachieving, offensive instigator of the shenanigans, while Skylar Astin plays Casey, the buttoned-up Stanford student who’s got his life squared away and is fed up with Miller’s exhausting immaturity. Together, Miller and Casey are complicated – they’re at each other’s throats one minute and making out the next (no exaggeration there, but you’ll have to see the movie to find out why), but it at least seems believable. Their friendship is messy and not easily fixed, which helps give the two likeable leads some depth.
Recapping the mischief that ensues doesn’t really work in the case of “21 and Over” – frankly, you’ll have to see it unfold for yourself. Just know the movie isn’t trying too hard, and it doesn’t want you to, either. Its humor is crude, sometimes disgusting and often over-the-top, but it’s still fun all the same.