Let’s Find 5 Nice Things to Say About 21 AND OVER (Review)

starring: Skylar Astin, Miles Teller, Justin Chon, Sarah Wright

written and directed by: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore

MPAA: Rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, some graphic nudity, drugs and drinking

21 and Over is not a good movie. It marks the directing debut of screenwriting team Scott Moore and Jon Lucas, the men responsible for writing The Hangover and The Change-Up, and let’s just say they decided to stay on-brand with this one. It is a rote, predictable, thoroughly derivative wild-night-from-hell dude comedy, full of cheap gross-out “laughs” and grotesquely easy racism played as “humor” (it continues fleshing out Moore and Lucas’ troubling fascination with objectifying Asian men as comedy props, as seen previously with Ken Jeong in The Hangover). It is nowhere near fresh enough to be funny, bringing absolutely nothing new to the table as it pickpockets 90 minutes of your life you’ll never get back.

But hey, let’s try saying 5 nice things about it!

  1. The role of stable, straight-laced Casey is played by the endlessly charming Skylar Astin, fresh from his role as Anna Kendrick’s honey-voiced love interest in Pitch Perfect (he was also very funny in Hamlet 2). There’s a timeless smoothness to Astin’s onscreen presence, and combined with his innate likability and strong comedic timing, he’s definitely one to watch. Which is good, because I like watching him. Because he is very good-looking. Ahem. So really, the “nice thing” I’m saying is that Skylar Astin is hot and in nearly every frame of this movie. So: nice thing!
  2. In the role of raucous shit-starter Miller, the gifted Miles Teller gets another opportunity to connect with audiences. Believe it or not, but this is the same guy who made his devastating film debut as the young man who ran over Nicole Kidman’s toddler son in John Cameron Mitchell’s Rabbit Hole (2010). If you saw that, you know Teller is the real deal. He also gave a scene-stealing performance in the Julianne Hough Footloose reboot, and is poised to break out even further in this year’s Sundance favorite The Spectacular Now opposite Shailene Woodley. Hopefully after that he can stop taking shit roles like this one.
  3. As Jeff, the birthday boy who is forced into an all-night misadventure by Miller and Casey, Justin Chon certainly goes above and beyond in terms of humiliating himself on camera. Is that a nice thing? I don’t know. But in addition to all the various bodily fluid-related shenanigans he subjects himself to, there is also a scene where Chon unwraps a tampon and eats it on camera. This is filmed in a single unbroken close-up, effectively rendering it the “I Dreamed A Dream” of tampon-eating scenes. It came true!
  4. While Jeff is eating the tampon, Casey and Miller are committing what I’m pretty sure could be labeled a sexual assault of two sorority pledges in the next room. I was very uncomfortable during this scene, and am definitely not calling it a nice thing. But guess what? It gets avenged! And gloriously so. Well, maybe not as good as actually calling the police and having Casey and Miller arrested. But they are sentenced to a fairly eye-for-an-eye punishment, which occurs while they are…
  5. …naked! There is so much male nudity in this movie! Oh, it is wonderful. This is fortunately the kind of hard-R dude comedy far more interested in playing male humiliation nudity for laughs than flashing tits for titillation. Astin, Teller, and Chon all spend considerable portions of the film nude. And we’re talking lingering, fully lit, gratuitous nudity. No wangs, but cock socks aplenty. And as a big fan of inadvertent homoeroticism in bro comedies, I was quite pleased.

So! There. Five nice things about 21 and Over. If I were you, I’d wait for the screen caps.

21 and Over opens nationwide on Friday, March 1.

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