21 And Over
Opens Friday at Scotiabank
Every few years a film comes along that celebrates our natural North American propensity for drinking until we pass out or vomit, or both. 21 And Over comes courtesy of the writers of The Hangover, who know a thing or two about debauched nights on the town.
You’ve seen it before, of course. The film borrows from The Hangover, Old School, Road Trip and a host of others. In this latest boozy bromance, two buddies descend on a third, who is celebrating his 21st birthday. Or rather, he isn’t celebrating: he has the interview of a lifetime the following day and doesn’t want to mess it up. “You guys are so white!” marvels Jeffchang (Justin Chon from the Twilight movies), whose pals never call him by one name only. Jeffchang’s dad is old school Asian and pressuring his son into medical school, like it or not.
But no partying doesn’t sit well with Miller (Miles Teller). That’s the cue for his speech about how “in America, it’s about Budweiser and bald eagles” and how getting faced on one’s 21st birthday is a rite of passage. It’s the drunk guy’s equivalent of Henry V’s motivational St. Crispin’s Day speech, and it works. The boys flip the bird at fate by saying, “Just one beer,” and as everyone knows, nothing good ever followed that sentence.
After some mechanical bull riding and the requisite slo-mo projectile vomit scene, Jeffchang passes out. It’s up to Miller and straight-laced Casey (Skylar Astin, the charmer from Pitch Perfect) to drag their buddy home — if they can figure out where he lives — and sober him up before his big interview.
It’s a long, circuitous walk home, obviously, otherwise 21 And Over would be a very short film. On the way the young men encounter stampeding buffalo, angry Latinas, an over-capacity Smart car, and the new love of Casey’s life (Sarah Wright). Basically, it’s just your typical Katy Perry Friday night.
Yes, it’s a movie about beer pong supremacy, but it’s also about finding your bliss. Uptight Casey, who plans on turning all Wall Street on his pals as soon as school is over, takes a page out of Miller’s book and chills out. For his part, Miller decides that it’s time to grow up… sorta. And Jeffchang reveals that he’s not the perfect son and student everyone thinks he is.
Every character in the film — male, female, old and young — gets an ‘A’ for expletives. The film relies heavily on the fast-talking smarm of Teller (who was in last year’s ultimate high school party movie Project X) and writers give him an arsenal of borderline racist and definitely sexist lines to keep up the peppy pace.
Directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore haven’t come up with anything new, but have crafted a decent party film around a threadbare plot. Not quite a cautionary tale — the men walk away a little red in the butt-cheeks but otherwise relatively unscathed — 21 And Over serves as a reminder to college-aged kids that they should make hay while the sun shines, and to have their ID at the ready.