Movie review: 21 & Over

21-and-over-posterTurning 21 is supposed to be the greatest night of your life. It’s supposed to be unimaginable, unforgettable, and hopefully unmemorable if everything goes according to plan. For Jeff Chang (Justin Chon), this holds to be completely true in 21 & Over.

On the day of Chang’s big 21st birthday, his two best high school pals, played by Footloose’s Miles Teller and Pitch Perfect’s Skylar Astin, show up at his apartment. Totally taken by surprise, Chang quickly tells his best friends he will not be going out since he has a major med school interview the next morning. However, after a grand speech by Teller, concluded with the obnoxious push of an air-horn, Chang changes his mind, making his best friends promise to not let him get too crazy. Well, despite Astin’s best efforts, craziness ultimately ensues, primarily at the encouragement of Teller.

From classic bar hopping to conquering a tower of drinking games, Chang literally gets dragged around everywhere by his two pals in search of his apartment. Chang even gets thrown over a balcony and out of a window causing his best friends to wonder, “Did we just kill Jeff Chang.” Between all the madness, secrets are revealed, friendships are tested, and the girl of Astin’s dreams is met. All this happens within a mere 24 hours.

Unlike most raunchy comedies, 21 & Over has a great deal of heart at its core. While viewers may expect this comedy to be nothing more than stupid jokes and insane party sequences, they’ll be surprised to learn that 21 & Over is so much more. 21 & Over is a film about friendship, the challenges of college, and life itself. Many comedies these days seem so uninspired, so it was refreshing to see one that went deeper than getting surface-level laughs.

Now, don’t get me wrong, 21 & Over is not some brilliant piece of cinematic work. It’s a slightly cliché and outrageous portrayal of turning 21, but it has heart, and for that it’s definitely worth seeing. 21 & Over is filled with so many life lessons and insights that it is difficult to believe that it is from the writers of The Hangover and The Hangover Part II. Yes, you read that right, Hollywood screenwriters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore both serve as writers and directors of 21 & Over.

Considering the fact that this is Lucas and Moore’s first stab at directing, they did an excellent job capturing the exciting moments of turning 21 and the heartfelt moments that occur within friendships. Plus, 21 & Over has a killer soundtrack. From the Dropkick Murphys to The Naked and Famous, the soundtrack is definitely worth a listen and really sets the tone for the entire film.

Despite the fact that 21 & Over is not groundbreaking in any way whatsoever and contains incredibly unoriginal jokes at times, its heartfelt commentary on friendship and ability to make you laugh through life’s curveballs makes it quite an entertaining movie.

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