The case could be made that no one over the age of 25 should review a film such as “21 & Over.” For that matter, given that the film works so aggressively hard to be puerile, I might even push the age back further to no one over 21.
The film is from the writers of “The Hangover,” which came out of nowhere to be a smash hit enjoyed by people over and under the age of 25. Given their own film to direct, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore spend much of the time groping for “The Hangover’s” magic formula.
Sure college students get drunk and rowdy, but what saloon in the world would tolerate anyone climbing onto a counter and urinating on everyone?
Would anyone in that bar find this funny? Well, in this movie no one seems to mind or even take much notice and this continues on with drunk driving, alcohol poisoning, a gun on campus and other “fun” stuff.
The only time I laughed … well, more a guffaw … was when someone said that a complicated story was “like ‘The Da Vinci Code’ only it makes sense.”
Not a laff riot, mind you, but a reasonably amusing line.
The idea here is that a pair of old high school buddies, buttoned-down Casey (Skylar Astin) and loose cannon Miller (Miles Teller), now in different universities around the country, show up out of nowhere to take a third buddy, Jeff (Justin Chon), out to celebrate his 21st birthday.
Never mind that it’s in the middle of the semester and he has an important interview the following morning set up by his dictatorial father. Finally, Jeff agrees to go for the well-known “one beer.”
Drinking enough to pass out — and in real life end up in a hospital if not a mortuary — Jeff becomes little more than a rag doll the other two supposed friends drag around for the rest of the evening.
But here’s the incomprehensible part: The two buddies — who despite matching Jeff drink for drink and continuing to imbibe for the remainder of the movie yet never get very drunk — really want to take Jeff home but don’t know where he lives.
The film seems to be suffering from its own alcoholic memory loss. At the beginning of the movie, the two guys turn up at Jeff’s place. They begin the night’s adventure from there. How can they not know where he lives? They were there only hours before!
This long night’s journey into more night — the Northwestern college town seems to party all night — takes in a female love interest for Casey (an appealing Sarah Wright), a vengeful Latina sorority, a buffalo mascot and the girl’s belligerent boyfriend (Jonathan Keltz).
Little humor or logic comes from any of this. In the final reel, the film makes a stab at serious buddy issues and vulnerabilities but it’s a no-go.
The drunken night on the town is a sub-genre of the R-rated comedy and sometimes these things actually work and are funny. But “21 & Over” looks for laughs in all the wrong places.
Opens: March 1, 2013 (Relativity Media)
Production companies: Relativity Media in association with Virgin Produced and Mandeville Films
Cast: Skylar Astin, Miles Teller, Justin Chon, Sarah Wright, Jonathan Keltz
Directors/screenwriters: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Producer: David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, Ryan Kavanaugh, Hugo Shong
Executive producers: Tucker Tooley, Jason Beckman, Jason Colodne, Jason Felts, Ron Burkle, Lou Yan, Andy Yan, David Manpearl
Director of photography: Terry Stacey
Production designer: Jerry Fleming
Music: Lyle Workman
Costume designer: Christine Wada
Editor: John Refoua
R rating, 93 minutes