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21 & Over is not the first comedy to replicate the formula from The Hangover in hopes of striking box office gold. Nor am I the first reviewer to say that 21 & Over is likely only appealing to those 21 and under. Bros Miller (Miles Teller) and Casey (Skylar Astin) strong-arm their high-school buddy Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) into celebrating his 21st birthday the night before an important med school interview. Things get expectedly out of hand, and Miller and Casey spend the entire night trying to get an extremely inebriated Jeff home in time for his interview. I probably would have loved this movie when I was thirteen. Now? Not so much.
Teller, doing a dedicated impersonation of American Pie's Stifler, plays ne'er-do-well Miller, who has dropped out of college and desperately wants his conservative Asian friend to party like a rock star for his 21st birthday. Astin's buttoned-down Casey urges Miller to heed the warning of Jeff's stereotypically gruff father (FranÃ§ois Chau) that Jeff better be in rare form for his interview. Of course, one celebratory drink turns into twenty, and Jeff gets super wasted within the hour. Since Miller and Casey kind of suck as friends and have never visited before, they have no idea where Jeff lives. On their search for Jeff's abode, calamity ensues.
So 21 & Over isn't exactly copying The Hangover since the only person who blacks out is Jeff and the film is told from Miller and Casey's point of view. Even so, the boys-night-out raunch feels strikingly familiar but certainly less effective than Bradley Cooper and company's pratfalls. As far as teen comedies go - and yes, I consider this a teen comedy - 21 & Over isn't terrible. The leading men have a good rapport and there are a few amusing bits. During the disc's supplemental material the filmmakers discuss how most everyone can relate to turning 21 and that makes the film watchable to an extent. The whole set-up is kind of convenient, from the looming interview to the intermittent friendship squabbles, but no one is watching 21 & Over for the story.
Directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore provide the requisite speed bumps - Miller pisses of an entire sorority and Casey falls in love with a smart/pretty/perfect/witty/taken girl (Sarah Wright) - but little more of interest. The plot is but a string of marginally related gags, and no character is at risk of learning anything of substance. 21 & Over is fairly crude (surprise!), and I doubt the thirteen-year-old boys who rent this movie will be expecting the copious amounts of male nudity. All three troublesome buddies are stripped of their clothes and dignity in the second act, and the aforementioned sorority's payback is degrading at best. The film is morally ambiguous, and I know I'm getting old because I kind of agree with Casey that music festivals are lame. 21 & Over really sells itself. I think you already know if you want to see this. Don't let me ruin your fun.
The 2.40:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is sufficiently detailed, with rich textures and a sharp, clear appearance. Black levels are good, colors are well saturated and skin tones are natural. I noticed no aliasing or digital noise, and digital tinkering is a non-issue.
The beautiful symphony of noise in a crowded bar surrounds the viewer and the film's popular-music soundtrack blares from all speakers thanks to the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The dialogue is always clear, the gags appropriately punchy and the jams nicely balanced. English SDH and Spanish subtitles are included.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
This is the typical Fox "combo pack" with Blu-ray/DVD/Digital copy code. The discs are packed in a Blu-ray eco-case, which is wrapped in a slipcover. The extras are perfunctory: Levels of Intoxication (3:48/HD) traces Jeff's drunkenness throughout the film, while Tower of Power (3:08/HD) looks at the frat-house drinking games used in the film. There is also a Gag Reel (2:24) alongside the film's Theatrical Trailer (1:43/HD).
I can't say 21 & Over is especially bad, but this kind of movie just doesn't appeal to me anymore. This coming-of-age comedy uses The Hangover as inspiration for a night of wild, newly legal boozing and related debauchery for three buddies. If you can legally buy alcohol steer clear, otherwise Rent It.
William lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.