21 & Over – Film Review
But never a by-the-numbers drinking comedy (almost?).
It’s nice to have something new.
TL;DR Surprisingly not as vapid as the trailer would suggest, 21 & Over is familiar territory. Luckily, the drinking part gets mostly dumped in favour of a knowingly stupid plot involving a lost address, spicy Latinas, suicidal tendencies, and bro-time. And the romantic subplot doesn’t obliterate the story. Wow. 3 out of 5 stars.
And the gay jokes are tasteful. Holy shit.
The plot follows Casey (Skylar “Pitch Perfect dude” Astin) and Miller (Miles “the weird kid from Rabbit Hole” Teller), 2 old best friends from high school who are visiting their other old best friend on his 21st birthday. Unfortunately, Jeff (the Asian from Twilight) has a big interview the following morning. Fortunately, Miller is a fucking sociopath, so they get peer pressured to go out and get hammered anyway. Things get complicated when Jeff gets blackout and Casey and Miller don’t know his address to get him home. Finding the address requires them to go through several ridiculous hoops, including contacting a Nicole, a girl Casey is sweet on (Millicent from Parks and Recreation), horribly injuring her boyfriend, running afoul of a Latina sorority, climbing a party tower, and eventually a hospital heist.
Things work out okay for everyone. Except Nicole’s boyfriend.
I entered into this thing with the lowest of expectations. Oh boy, another movie that glorifies binge drinking, as if it isn’t just a complete blackout with no memory that just leaves you confused and vomit-y.
I’m not hating on binge drinking (cheers!), just being realistic.
21 & Over does a good job of eschewing that.
But what really bothered me was the entire premise of the caper: not knowing Jeff’s address. Casey and Miller go to Jeff’s house at the start of the movie. They’re new to the area, and it’s the very first place they go. They should remember vaguely where it is. It’s the only place they’ve seen at the whole college.
As the kinda twist, we find out that they’d actually bypassed it several times over the course of the night. So, you guys didn’t recognise the fucking house once during all that? They don’t get binge drunk. What’s their excuse for not seeing it?
It was super frustrating.
Why I hate this movie:
I’m not sure how big American college campuses are, but if they were constantly in the vicinity of the fucking house, how the holy hell didn’t they see it?
Speaking of American colleges, I’ll never understand the whole frat/sorority thing. I can see that the movie was taking the enormous over-fucking-reaction of the Latina sorority as a joke, but crazy hazing rituals and creepy, cult-like gatherings are always in college movies/shows. I just don’t get it. It’s just a place to stay, with the bonus of getting to know some people, right? Any input from some Americans would appreciated. Please educate me.
Speaking of their overreaction, all Casey and Miller did was spank a couple of pledges (which they were expecting anyway), then make them kiss. The Latinas retaliate by smashing in their own doors to chase them down. Then they relentlessly canvass the neighbourhood for them (we see them going to Jeff’s dad’s motel room door, FFS). Their ultimate punishment once they’ve caught Casey and Miller is to brand them. Like, permanently. What the actual fuck, cunts? This is why nobody takes radfems seriously.
The tower party thing was so arbitrary. It was just an excuse for a partying montage.
The movie presents a possibly deep angle when it introduces Jeff’s supposed suicide attempt as backstory. Casey and Miller are positively affected by their knowledge of it, and the movie almost has something interesting to say. Then it pussies out at the last minute by handwaving it away as an “accident” because Jeff was sleep deprived due to studying/stress. You were so close, guys.
The boys shouldn’t have gone out in the first place. They should have just waited until the next night. Then Jeff’s interview would have been done and they could have celebrated his birthday and his successful interview (or drown sorrows if it wasn’t). Impatient dickheads.
Oh, and the whole “revenge against bouncers who used to card you” thing was so fucking rude. I’m Australian, so our legal drinking age is 18, so maybe I’ve got a skewed perception of this, but all the bouncers were doing was their job/upholding the law. What kind of revenge is that? You’re mad because you had been trying to break the law and got stopped? What?
It also yields the absolute worst line of the movie, and a genuine cringer. Upon showing his ID to a bouncer (he’s drunk, of course), Jeff: “Blackjack motherfucker!” Again, what?
Reasons to watch:
The hardcore binge drinking stuff gets happily pushed aside very quickly, though. Jeff blacks out before the first act is over, and the only other time we really see drinking again is during the tower party montage. And Casey and Miller never end up too white-girl themselves. As fun as binge drinking can be on-screen, I’m impressed that a movie like this toned it down so much.
And instead of making you totes awesome-sauce, bro-ski, binge drinking gets you lost, arrested, and your maybe suicide attempt discovered by your friends. At best, it’s inconvenient. Just like in real life.
The romantic subplot between Casey and Nicole is given a reduced role, which is amazing. It’s just a side note. Like it should be.
Nicole is pretty cool. She doesn’t give a fuck about what the boys are doing, and is even helpful, despite how weird the situation is. She also shares my bleak world view about future adult life. And she masturbates a lot. We’re soulmates.
21 & Over sneaks a couple of gay jokes into the banter between Randy (Nicole’s boyfriend) and his lackeys (they’re male cheerleaders). But it never runs with it. Casey and Miller just describe them as “weird” or jerks, instead of throwing around “gay” or “fag.” Looks like boozy teen movies are getting progressive.
Jeff slo-mo vomits on a mechanical bull. Adorbs.
Also, when he’s made over by the stoners, he has no pants on. Dat ass.
Best line goes to Miller, who is chastising Casey for not remembering the Greek letters on Nicole’s jumper: “Yeah, well, if you’d been a normal guy and stared at her tits, we’d be home already.” I was staring, if it helps.
Casey and Miller spend a significant amount of time basically naked. I have no qualms with this.
Oh, and during the humiliation by the Latinas, Casey and Miller are forced to kiss each other. They don’t really get there, but it was pretty on par with what we saw the Latina pledges doing. Homoeroticsim equality!
What little heart it has is ultimately outweighed by the blandness and stupidity of the plot. But it’s nice to have a booze movie that attempts to have depth. 3 out of 5 stars.