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article imageReview: ‘21 and Over’ toes the legal limit Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Mar 1, 2013 in Entertainment
‘21 and Over’ is about a rite of passage and learning that becoming an adult is more than just gaining legal access to alcohol.
Different cultures acknowledge milestones by carrying out various traditions. In the case of 21 and Over, one guy's high school buds pay him a surprise visit to drink him into adulthood – it's his "American bar mitzvah."
Miller, Casey and Jeff Chang (Miles Teller, Skylar Astin and Justin Chon) were best friends in high school, but going to different colleges has caused them to drift apart over the years. One event is going to change all that: Jeff's 21st birthday. When the festivities are threatened by an early morning interview, promises are made – and promptly broken. From pub crawling to sorority break-ins to grand theft auto, the guys embark on a crazy, alcohol-fueled adventure that will leave a permanent impression.
This rite-of-passage, mission-oriented, booze fest has been created and recreated for the screen countless times. The aim, therefore, is to make the latest picture different in some way. To some extent, this movie is successful on that front. From teddy bear circumcisions to punishments that match their formerly dream-like crime to a quest to reach the "tower master," this film makes some original contributions to the genre. And the stuff that is unoriginal is adapted and incorporated well into the script.
One of the best elements of the film is the chemistry between the three main characters; without which, the entire movie would be unwatchable. Granted Chon spends most of the picture unconscious and being carried around, but he's a convincing and funny drunk. Teller and Astin have an entertaining repertoire, delivering humorous and well-timed banter. Together, these guys seem genuine, never appearing to be strangers trying to be friends.
The jokes are expectedly crass, racist, sexist and often hilarious. But the film as a whole is hit-and-miss. A scene that garnered numerous laughs could be followed by another that might only get a snicker. It seems to work best when they're not trying so hard to make it funny; the comedy that develops within the scene is far more effective. Sprinkled throughout and becoming heavier as it nears the end are more serious issues about friendship and the pressure to succeed. And even though it's darker than most of the other subjects tackled in the movie (such as beer pong and pep rallies), writers/directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore find a way to make it work.
(And if the plot sounds familiar, it's probably because these same guys wrote The Hangover.)
Directors: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
Starring: Miles Teller, Justin Chon and Skylar Astin
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