Many of us remember our 21st birthdays. Many of us don’t. Some of us haven’t been fortunate to have ours yet. Either way, what you probably do remember is the thrill of legally drinking for the first time and the feeling of invincibility that came with it.
“21 & Over,” the new comedy film directed by the writers of “The Hangover,” captures that feeling perfectly. This could have easily rivaled “The Hangover’s” night of drunken debauchery, but without any consistent jokes, it doesn’t even hold a candle to it.
The story follows three high school friends, Casey (Skylar Astin), Miller (Miles Teller) and Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) who reunite for Jeff’s 21st birthday to take him out drinking. Unfortunately, Jeff’s super strict father (Francois Chau) is forcing him to bed early for a medical school interview the next day. When Chang relents and gets completely wasted, Casey and Miller have to get him home before his dad discovers the truth. And so begins a film that stuffs in every college cliché you can think of, from cocky preps to vengeful sorority girls.
The three leads do an admirable job of anchoring the film and making their characters likable, but they don’t get any meaningful jokes or stand-out moments beyond your average movie teens. Like any teenage cast, there’s the party-loving one (Casey), the responsible one (Miller) and the awkward one who becomes self-confident (Jeff Chang), all standard college movie characters.
They look and act like college kids and have great chemistry together, but the tired YOLO message and recycled jokes from better college movies make this film rather predictable. There are genuine laughs, but nothing to make it stand out from any other college comedies. Don’t feel guilty if you black out by the time “21 & Over” hits the credits. Just be sure to pop an Advil and have a Gatorade ready.