I’m sure that those responsible for marketing 21 & Over will assume that those who enjoyed Project X will also end up liking this. They would be wrong. I really liked Project X but disliked this movie, for reasons that I’ll describer later in this review.
The plot is simplicity itself. Three young men head out to drink a lot of alcohol and party hard. Unfortunately, one of the young men (Jeff Chang, played by Justin Chon) has a big interview that his overbearing father (Francois Chau) wants him to attend in the morning. Out of the other two young men, one (Casey, played by Skylar Astin) tries to keep a level head and stay responsible while the other (Miller, played by Miles Teller) just wants to make the evening as messy as possible. Things do get messy, very messy, and the night turns disastrous when Miller and Casey need to take Jeff home and realise that they don’t know where he lives. Jeff is unconscious, but at least he’s still safely with his friends. Until they lose him.
Written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, 21 & Over has a few amusing moments scattered throughout its 93 minute runtime, but most of the time it just feels more like being stuck with a couple of crude idiots than being allowed to visit a particularly memorable party. Project X (and it’s worth noting that Miles Teller plays a very similiar character in both movies, the instigator of the trouble) was anarchic and escalated into a situation that changed most of the main characters involved. 21 & Over doesn’t do that. All of the characters start as they mean to go on, albeit not always in immediately obvious or recognisable ways.
Miles Teller is just annoying for almost every minute that he’s onscreen, and Justin Chon plays someone you wouldn’t want to hang about with on a drunken night out so it’s up to Skylar Astin to be likable. Thankfully, he is. Sarah Wright is a girl that Astin meets who makes a strong impression on him, Jonathan Keltz is an aggressive douchebag and Francois Chau as the overbearing father is . . . . . . . . . . . . . another aggressive douchebag. I can’t be overly kind to the cast, but that’s the fault of the writing from Lucas and Moore. The premise could have been used to move in any number of directions, tonally, but a number of mis-steps leave the cast figuratively running on the spot for 90 minutes, which becomes tiring and/or grating for viewers after about 15 minutes.
I’m sure that this will work better for the teenage audience it’s aimed at, but I’m also sure that there will even be many members of that target demographic who find themselves disappointed. Lucas and Moore also wrote The Hangover, and it’s obvious that this is supposed to be a trip back to that well, albeit taking place on the big night itself as opposed to the day after, but it ends up as something that can barely get up to the level of The Hangover Part II.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: JON LUCAS, SCOTT MOORE
STARS: MILES TELLER, SKYLAR ASTIN, JUSTIN CHON, SARAH WRIGHT, JONATHAN KELTZ, FRANCOIS CHAU, RUSSELL HODGKINSON
RUNTIME: 93 MINS APPROX