21 & Over (d. Jon Lucas, Scott Moore USA 2013)

21 & Over (d. Jon LucasScott Moore USA 2013)

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This film proudly presents its writers as those who wrote The Hangover (d. Todd Phillips USA/Germany 2009). One should expect a University/College type of drunken humour. Like so many teen films this follows a genre that spurns the convention of the ellipsis. This film shows what could potentially be learnt by a single night. For clarification, elipsis, what is missed out by a film (how many characters eat, sleep or go to the toilet in real time?), usually causes a film to cover a time period that could potentially be weeks to years in length. However, this film, specific to its genre, takes a slightly unconventional night to transpire. I don’t mean to suggest the film is in real time, merely that it is not longer than 24 hours. Whilst a film like Iron Man 3 (d. Shane Black USA/China 2013)  takes an unspecified time, that one would assume is at least many days – if not many more. I hope this isn’t much of a spoiler for you… So thematically…


The rite of passage, almost intrinsic to the genre. What does it mean to become an adult? What do you need to sacrifice? Who do you need to sacrifice? Is it necessary to leave some friends and some behaviours behind? Do you loose some of your individuality, to do so? These questions are explored within 21 and Over, and the film gives some very romanticist responses. Some of the answers the film offers don’t feel believable or possible. Considering the comedy of the film tends to be deliberately ridiculous (let’s get him and get back and shower and dress him up and sober him up in how long?), is it possible to give a serious exploration of these themes?


21 and Over‘s comedy is attempted by large performances that stems from the narrative situations. However, the film struggles for anything memorable. As mentioned, the concepts are ridiculous – particularly the film’s use of time. But with this in mind it’s hard to think of a time where this became its strength. The performances of our two leads are weak, one lacking anyones sympathies, and the other just can’t seem to get there. This latter character, Casey (Skylar Astin), should be our romantic lead as he lacks the wit or style to deliver comedy. However, the film skims over such moments leaving his role largely unfulfilled. I have to give special mention to the character of Jeff Chang (Justin Chon). If there is comedy in the film at all it is largely due to his performances. He delivers a style of drunk humour that is outrageous at times – but this is its strength. This is precisely where drunk humour works best. In spite of this strength, he is not featured as much as he should have been – leaving out the best thing in the film for most of its duration.


The film is unfortunately rather bare. What laughs the film does have are few and far between with a lot left worse for wear. None of the films themes are that effective or seriously thought through. The film is quite typical of its genre and offers nothing new. The strong performances in the film are left as supporting acts and it leaves you thinking what could have been. However, for some light entertainment the film may deliver, if not being any bit memorable – with the possible exception of getting down.



Further Reading


Interviews with Cast

Dazed and Confused


The Inbetweeners

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