Review: 21 and Over
On the day of his 21st birthday, and the eve of an important medical school interview, the studious Jeff Chang is taken out to celebrate his newfound freedom. One drink leads to, well, a lot, and when Jeff passes out, friends Casey and Miller try to find home, a journey that takes them to a sorority, a party tower, a police station, and a strange underground lair.
Who’s in It?
Skylar Astin, who was fantastic in the loveable Pitch Perfect, plays Casey, the more straight-laced half of the influential friend duo, while Miles Teller is Miller, a loud, foul-matched, sex-starved student who just wants to party. Sarah Wright is the beautiful young love interest Nicole, and Justin Chon is the young man who gets wasted, and violated over and over again. For what it’s worth, you see three of these four naked – and Ms. Wright isn’t one of those three.
It would be easy to dismiss this seemingly predictable college-party flick beforehand, especially following the disappointment that was last year’s Project X, but once it gets started, it’s becomes very hard. It could be the slow-motion vomit that spews from Jeff’s mouth as he rides a mechanical bull. Perhaps it’s the genuinely charming and realistic exchange between Casey and Nicole that occurs moments before. Or maybe it’s the opening scene of the film, one that shows two red-cheeked students, Casey and Miller, walking across campus in the morning, each wearing nothing but a lone sock – you can guess where that sock rests, and it’s not their faces that are red.
Regardless of when it happens, this surprisingly interesting and deft film will draw you in and hold your attention, even during the more profane and cringe-worthy moments. The film tells a rather generic, though genuine story of the rise and fall of friendships during college. Besties in high school, the threesome stay in touch while going to different colleges, but don’t know each other as well anymore. Priorities change, stress sets in, and the future starts sooner than any of them want.
It’s the right amount of heart, enough to make you care about the characters, and maybe even make you relate. What’s also striking about this film that is ostensibly geared towards teens and 20-somethings is the way in which it treats woman. This genre traditionally features gratuitous female nudity for male viewers, using the male characters as a vehicle of voyeurism and manipulation. Those typical acts and desires are punished in 21 & Over, and while there are a couple flashes of brief breasts, and a pair of girls making out, it’s the males who are embarrassed and abused, again and again. So, to our daring, charming, and exposed young leads, hats off.
Should You See It?
There is vomit, urination, and male nudity. So, sure, why not?
“Jeff Chang!” He is not referred to as Jeff, but Jeff Chang, which in and of itself isn’t particularly funny until you look at credits, which make the character’s name one word: JeffChang.