Posted in: Review

21 & Over

It’s a college sex comedy that’s neither sexy nor comedic, but it does take place on a college campus so… there’s that I guess.

21 & Over, written and directed by the writers of the first Hangover movie (Jon Lucas and Scott Moore), is an unembarrassed attempt to simply remake that movie with characters 15 years younger.  The story concerns one night of debauched shenanigans for two childhood friends, Casey and Miller (Skylar Astin, Miles Teller), while they attempt to bring their other childhood friend, Jeff Chang (Justin Chon), home before morning. Why is this so hard? Because Jeff Chang drank to excess and is now unconscious to the point where he won’t wake up, even if shook, slapped, or dropped from a building into a rose bush. It seems, among the many colorful characters our heroes meet during their Odyssey, no one informed them that if someone drinks so much they can’t be woken when struck in the face then they are experiencing severe alcohol poisoning and probable brain damage and will eventually die. Never mind that no one can direct them to Jeff Chang’s house, but one would think somebody could have directed them to a hospital.

Logic notwithstanding, 21 & Over‘s major problem is that it isn’t funny.  Straight-laced Casey and dude-bro Miller’s banter is tin-eared, as is Casey’s itinerant romantic development with cardboard cut-out love interest, Nicole (Sarah Wright). The abovementioned antics which, I gather, were supposed to be funny, are either misshapen clones of scenes from Porky’s or entirely mundane fragments of college nightlife presented with an oafish editorial slight-of-hand meant to mislead us into thinking we’ve just witnessed something of interest. In one baffling rapid-cut montage the boys ascend a building by succeeding at various wild and crazy challenges such as, hold on to your butts, beer pong and suck and blow. Slow down, you crazy kids!

This would be bad enough except that, when it’s not too tame, 21 & Over is way too far in the other direction, and there is one scene in particular which tops the list, barre none.  Casey and Miller break into a sorority in the hopes of finding Nicole who they suspect may know Jeff’s address. Good college hijinks so far. In a desperate attempt to conceal their intrusion, they duck into a room in which two underwear clad, blindfolded teenagers, assuming the person who just entered their bedroom is ranking sister, bend over at the waist and prepare to receive paddle spankings as a part of a hazing ritual. Alright, it’s a bit predictable, but it’s sort of sexy. Still within acceptable hijinks parameters. Miller, partially because it titillates him, but at least plausibly so as to continue to hide their illicit (though innocent) presence in the house as well, begins paddling said pledges, but then says something with his man voice. This understandably confuses the caricatures pretending to be women. Miller tells them that he’s in their room under the ranking sister’s authority, and they buy this for some reason. Getting weird now since it would be normal for one of these girls to be terrified at this point but, still, his motive is simply to not get caught so we’re fine. At this point they could just cut their losses, say “Alright pledges, good job, go back to sleep,” and leave the way they came in.

Instead, things get rapey. He commands them to make out, so they comply, somewhat reluctantly, and our “heroes,” who we have thus far been led to believe are basically decent guys, just stand there and watch for a while. Right before they get caught and are forced to flee, Miller commands one caricature to grab the other’s breast. Watching this scene unfold one realizes with sudden horror that the filmmakers expect us to be tantalized by the sight of this idiot violating the sexual consent of two human beings for his own gratification. It’s so utterly vile, and so painfully obvious that it was thought to be funny by the filmmakers, that the rest of the film takes on a David Lynch-like sinister surreality that culminates when Casey and Miller are abducted by the women they indirectly sexually assaulted and their fellow sorority sisters. In a scene meant to evoke the creepy sex-cult from Eyes Wide Shut, Casey and Miller are stripped naked, paddled, forced to kiss, and then permanently branded with the Greek initials of the sorority. Everything’s cool guys! They were raped back, so it’s cool!

Ah, college. Best years of our lives. This movie is repugnant.

The Blu-ray includes a gag reel and two featurettes.

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