In case you didn’t know what you were in for with a film like 21 and Over, let me ask you one thing. How comfortable are you with man butt? If you’re uncomfortable, 21 and Over is going to challenge you with its hefty amount of man butt. How much man butt you ask? The film is about and hour and a half long, and at least 15-20 minutes of that is spent on male nudity of some kind. So about 25-30% of the film has you looking at some man’s buttocks (and a dingleberry in one case).
21 and Over is a party film, plain and simple. If you don’t expect too much nuance, are fine with superfluous amounts of profanity instead of dialogue, and aren’t put off by dude butt then this flick might be of interest to you. Now if any of that has your interest piqued/scared you away, please read on for a full review of this butt-tiful flick.
21 and Over
Director: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
Release Date: March 1, 2013
Three best friends from high school (who have lost touch), Miller (Miles Teller), Casey (Skylar Astin), and Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) meet up in order to celebrate Jeff Chang’s 21st birthday. Jeff Chang (his full name is always used) doesn’t want to celebrate at first since he has a med school interview the next morning, and his overbearing father (François Chau) has high expectations for him. But of course through Miller’s persistance, semi-realistic college kid decision making, and shenanigans, Jeff Chang parties anyway. When Jeff Chang gets unconsciously drunk and Miller and Casey forget where Jeff Chang lives, they go from party to party in order to find someone who does.
From the short synopsis, you can probably gauge the film’s familiarity. So much of it sounds like it has been done before. Whether or not that’s a consequence of sharing the same writers as The Hangover and The Change Up is yet to be determined. What you can figure out is how much those two films, and many films of the 80s-early 90s influence (expect Rocky references) how 21 and Over plays out. For instance during much of the film, Jeff Chang is unconscious, and as a result, Miller and Casey are forced to drag him around, throw him from high places, and shove him into tight areas, much like Weekend at Bernie‘s. And like Weekend at Bernie’s, while an unconscious Jeff Chang is good for a few funny sight gags, it wears thin through overuse. Unfortunately, running a joke into its inevitable unfunny exaggeration is the root of 21 and Over‘s problems.
That’s why it was so important for me to mention the profanity and man butt at the beginning of this review. Many college party films of the past used male nudity as a punchline. In 21 and Over, it’s used as the set-up, the punchline, and everything else you can think of. In fact, the opening shot of the film is the two lead’s behinds. And like with the unconscious Jeff Chang, its shock appeal and hilarity wanes as your succumbed to their behinds over and over again. The profanity in the film is just as bad. Now I’m not the first one to tire of profanity, but it’s an issue when every other word out of the characters mouths is an F-word. The excessive profanity not only grows tiresome, but it’s debilitating to growth in a film that tries to emphasize that it has characters.
As mentioned earlier, 21 and Over is written by the same people who wrote The Hangover, so a lot of its predecessor’s hangups are notable here. Like Hangover, Jeff Chang has an important event the next morning but parties anyway, one of the friends is the “immature” caricature that never grew up (and although there is a commendable attempt at giving him a character arc, its trajectory is so predictable within the dialogue that there’s almost no point in trying), and in the end (spoilers?) everything works out for everyone.
Although 21 and Over doesn’t know when to end its jokes, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the couple of things it does well. Although the characters aren’t real characters at all (and only defined through base stereotypical attributes), their decisions, and the consequences of their actions, are realistically immature. I never once questioned the logic of something because I was able to write it off as something “dumb and drunk kids would think of.” And although most of the film is predictable, Jeff Chang’s character arc has a refreshing darkness to it. At some revelations about his character’s past, I was notably taken by surprise (and his ending is refreshing complex given the nature of the film).
Unfortunately when you take away the few moments of promise of something deeper, all you’re left with is a film with the naked butts of drunk men. Then they proceed to wave their butts in your face and yell, “Aren’t I funny?” But those man butts prove to be nothing more than distractions from a lacking, considerably average comedy.
You’ll probably enjoy 21 and Over the most if you’re blackout drunk during someone’s party and it happens to be playing on the TV in front of you. You won’t really know what’s going on because the music’s so loud and you’re barely conscious, but you might get a chuckle out of looking at naked butts.