By Laurie Coker
The Hangover films stopped appealing to me after the first installment, American Pie was only good with the first slice, and there should be no sequel for Bridesmaids (or copycat for that matter), and all for good reason. We have no limit on college party-fest films, like Animal House, Super Bad and so very many others. I only wish that all of the screenwriters for this genre of films knew how to write smart tasteless comedies and did not find it necessary to rely on foul language, nasty situations and even fouler humor and worse, call it entertainment. The writer’s of the Hangover films, here, have simply refashioned the worst aspects of each and turned them into 21 and Over, a stupid, tasteless assault geared toward the college student demographic.
Like most college party films, the story begins with friends not so innocently heading out to party and find themselves embroiled in a wild and ridiculous series of binge drinking, crazy chases, brawls and generally unbelievable circumstances. In this case, fast-talking, foul-mouthed, college dropout, Miller (Miles Teller), visits high school buddy, Casey (Skylar Astin), who is on the fast track to success on Wall Street, join forces to show the third in their high school trio, Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) a good time on his 21st birthday. At first Jeff Chang refuses to go, because his tyrannical father insists on him being fresh and alert for an important medical school interview the following morning at 8 am. A Miller’s insistence, the trio heads out anyway and as is necessary, the proverbial poo hits the fan (in this case, fortunately it doesn’t really, but pee flies).
Teller, a junior speed-talker who could give veteran Vince Vaughn a run, rapidly spews out the F-word and filthy remarks more times in the first five minutes of film’s open sequence than ten other R-rated films would in two hours and it never stops. Teller is funny and has impeccable comic timing, but the dialogue here disgusts at every possible turn. I feel certain a good deal of adlibbing goes on, especially between Miller and Astin, and occasionally a funny moment (literally) comes into play, but so few are the genuine laughs and I longed to leave the theatre.
I admit, I am not the target demographic, but I don’t think I am for the Hangover films or those like Bridesmaids, and for me these films offer far more chuckles than does 21 and Over. Co-writers Scott Moore and Jon Lucas seem to think that plagiarism doesn’t include stealing from oneself, so they basically retool a tale of their own, using a younger cast in a similar, pub-crawling situation. I encourage encouraged to never reuse old essays (self-plagiarism) – since in the academic world this is a big no-no – and this is especially true when the work is subpar originally. Now, as proof, I offer that what worked in Hangover one did not work for the second and third ones and more pointedly, 21 and Over has little to nothing of what made Hangover a hit and all of what made the subsequent two films so horrible.
I will credit to the leads for offer what few chuckles I did have during the screening and for keeping me in my seat far too long. I cannot, however, give this trashy, disgusting, asinine film anything more than the F- it deserves. I can only hope that nothing so truly disgusting goes on anywhere near any of our college campuses. I am not so old to have forgotten that partying and mischief goes on, but please, please, someone tell me that nothing even close to these types of appalling shenanigans ever really happen. I know the unrealistic stuff doesn’t, but the deathly binging and sexual nastiness and foul talk completely distressed me.