Review: 21 and Over (Junior Varsity Hangover)

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21 and Over is another middle class “adventure” about hard drinking friends who get in over their heads; this time the characters act like college kids because they are.

It’s JeffChang’s 21st birthday and his high school friends are determined to get into trouble. Miller (Miles Teller) and Casey (Skylar Astin) traveled from their respective colleges to find JeffChang (Justin Chon) at Northern—a Stanford surrogate—where he’s staring down the barrel of the most important interview of his med-school career.

Crestfallen but understanding, the friends agree to end their birthday revelry early, promising JeffChang (Justin Chon) a full night’s rest, but JeffChang can’t be stopped and they follow his barhopping lead until a mechanical bull gets the better of him in front of (and all over) a crowd of buxom coeds. Now that he’s out cold they need to get him home…but they don’t know where “home” is. So their Homerian night is spent in search of JeffChang’s address, but no one seems to know their friend…what’s going wrong with JeffChang?

Ironically the least interesting character spends most of the film unconscious, but when he’s awake, Chon (as JeffChang) gets some of the film’s best comic moments. His dance on a car roof is particularly funny, and the sad whining he does when his drunkenness turns to hunger is pretty hilarious.

I'm pretty impatient with these kinds of stories. I can only tolerate so many guys forced out of comfort by their own juvenile hijinks, but 21 and Over is faster, funnier and more charming than it has any right to be. Despite a few lulls in the middle, the jokes pop out like Pez, are seldom stale and feel so well delivered you don’t mind the movie’s total meaninglessness.

Let’s be honest: like The Hangover, this is a story about guys who may seem more like men than the superannuated boys of Jackass, but nowhere near as physical—the only way writer/directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore could get closer to the central conflict of modern manhood is if they wrote a lost-weekend story about junior high students. It’d likely be a horror story, but so goes puberty.

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About Sara Vizcarrondo

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Sara Vizcarrondo is a freelance film critic out of San Francisco. She runs Opening Movies at Rottentomatoes, teaches film/media studies at DeAnza college and writes on film for Popdose and The SF Bay Guardian.

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