By Amanda Mayberry
The recently released “21 & Over,” which hit theaters last Friday, tells a story that is all too familiar.
Even the writers of the movie, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, admit their latest movie “21” is rather similar to their 2009 hit comedy “The Hangover.” However, in spite of the movies similarities, “21 & Over” only grossed $9,000,000 over the weekend, little more than half of the $16, 734,033 “Hangover made in it’s first weekend.
However, unlike “Hangover,” “21” has some much darker undertones to the story that aren’t very comical at all. Ultimately, the movie’s theme of self-indulgent irresponsibility is a bit more depressing than anything else.
“21” tells the story of Miller, played by Miles Teller, Casey, played by Skylar Astin, and Jeff Chang, played by Justin Chon. The plot centers around Chang’s 21st birthday celebration. Miller and Casey arrive at Chang’s home on the day of his birthday, despite his initial reluctance and a very important medical school interview in the morning, Miller and Casey convince, if not force, Chang to have “just one beer” as his right of passage as a legal adult.
Of course one beer turns into many, and only after Chang throws up in slow motion does the trio finally decide to call it a night. There’s only one problem: Casey and Miller haven’t a clue how to get back to Chang’s apartment, and Chang has drank himself unconscious.
Thus we are presented with our heroes’ seemingly impossible obstacle and the real story begins to reveal itself as the duo of Miller and Casey piece together their estranged friend, Chang’s broken life.
Before Chang threw up all over himself and passed out he had the chance to thank his friends in drunken slur for the night out “because [Chang] really needed this.” As Casey and Miller struggle to get their friend home, and sober, in time for his medical school interview in the morning, we begin to find out exactly why their friend “needed” to be dragged out for a night of self-indulgent relaxation and excessive drinking.
Casey uses Chang to stalk and flirt with an attractive love interest as the girl may be able to help them figure out where Chang lives. While Casey and the pretty blonde get to know each other, he inadvertently gets to know his friend a bit better as well. The story stumbles on and our trio find themselves faced with a gun, violence, attempted murder, suicide, depression and suggestively abusive parent-child relationships.
Though “21” manages to stir up a few chuckles at the start it takes a sour turn as the story develops and becomes quite unfunny when the movie presents some serious issues which aren’t even actually meant to be funny.
“21” isn’t as adventurous, or as good, as Lucas and Moore’s first hit and probably won’t achieve the multi-movie success “Hangover” did but honestly the world could be spared the college-aged “Hangover” series. The story was funny the first time but this time around the issue of alcoholism only manages to be depressing.
In “Hangover” Lucas and Moore were able to make a night of drunken debauchery so funny that it had to be made twice, but this time the movie of the same theme is almost slightly disappointing.
Lucas and Moore admit that with “21” they tried to “stick with that they know” but perhaps it’s time for them to grow up and move on to something else.