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21 & Over 


Starring Justin Chon, Skylar Astin, Miles Teller and Sarah Wright. Written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. Rated R. Opens March 1.

There are a lot of really bad teen comedy flicks in the world of teen comedy flicks. They usually center on a night of reckless debauchery that ends with some sort of coming-of-age moment of Important Life Realizations that may or may not actually exhibit some newfound level of maturity. Usually someone is trying to get laid and also there's boobs.

By all of these benchmarks, 21 and Over is your typical teen comedy flick. There is a night of reckless debauchery that ends with a coming-of-age moment of Important Life Realizations. Someone is sort of trying to get laid. There's boobs. For all intents and purposes, it fits neatly in the American Pie-chart of teen comedies.

Except it's so much better than that.

21 and Over is about drinking too much and making bad decisions and sex and booze and boobs. But it is also a ferociously smart comedy that paints its leads not as oversexed hormonal college BROS just looking to PARTY (BRO), but as actual three-dimensional humans who yes, want to party because they are guys who are 21 years old and in college, but also have other thoughts and concerns in life as well (as anybody who is 21 years old, about to graduate college and staring down the great unknown of the rest of their lives is most likely grappling with).

Jeff Chang (Chon) is turning 21. His friends Casey (Astin) and Miller (Teller) pay him a visit at school to take him out for his big day. He panics and initially refuses because his overbearing father has scheduled an important med school interview for him the next morning (an interview that, his father wastes no breath in noting, took some string-pulling to secure).

We all have those friends who say "comeoncomeoncomeon just one beer comeoncomeon" and get us to go out partying when we have something important to do the next day. Casey and Miller do exactly that, and Jeff Chang (P.S., they refer to him through the whole movie by his full name) quickly goes into full-blown rager mode.

But that's just the beginning of the movie. The rest of the film follows Casey and Miller as they carry a passed-out Jeff Chang around Weekend at Bernie's-style trying to figure out how to get him home and ready for his big interview. What follows is a pretty typical string of incidents of increasing hilarity in the vein of The Hangover, which the writer/director team of Lucas and Moore also wrote, but grounded in a very serious reality: as the two friends discover more about Jeff Chang's private life away from school, they find out that despite his current jovial state of running around naked with a teddy bear glued to his wang, Chang is struggling emotionally (and academically).

21 and Over is equal parts drunken comedy and coming-of-age (the college years) story, but while most movies that try to be both fail miserably at one or the other (with the Important Life Realizations feeling too forced or tacked on, or the comedy trying WAY too hard – an affliction The Hangover suffered from), 21 and Over strikes a perfect balance.

It helps that it is a charismatic cast of mostly unknowns carrying the whip-smart script and delivering lines in flawless rapid fire. More akin to Superbad than The Hangover in spirit, 21 and Over is the kind of movie that will only get funnier with repeat viewings. Also, it's fucking hysterical.



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