Despite an uninspiring premise – three childhood friends, one 21st birthday and one unforgettable night – at first glance, 21 and Over had promise. Overlooking a dubious list of writing and directing credits Jon Lucas has to his name, including The Change Up, The Hangover and the shitty Hangover sequels, I remained optimistic that this film could make me laugh; the cast, including Skylar Astin and Miles Tellar, have, in the past, proven themselves to be charismatic and likable on-screen personalities. My optimism for the film was even rewarded occasionally, as the dynamics between the friends seemed genuine, and the script even avoided the saccharine at times. Unfortunately, that was all the pay off I was going to get. 21 and Over quickly descended into chaos, with ludicrous plot twists and some truly low moments of gross out ‘comedy’. Any work done in drawing the audience into the heart of these characters, or core of their relationships, was undone immediately by the grotesque and, for want of a better word, stupid.
If 21 and Over had managed to avoid the temptation of resorting to toilet humour, nudity and gay jokes then it had real potential to be an interesting coming of age drama. The thread about a failed suicide attempt felt oddly out of place amongst the tampon eating and slow motion vomiting, and was indicative of the conflict in the films themes. Somewhere beneath the banal was a sweet, if slightly generic, story about growing up, sustaining friendships and the confusion of becoming an adult. Unfortunately that story was shrouded by the dated, and at times un-watchable, moments of insanity, implausibility and the outright disgusting.
Unless you are a 15 year old boy you’d be better off digging out your old copy of Weird Science. Just as with The Hangover Trilogy, the film makers have confused absurdity with hilarity resulting in a unsatisfying and rather humourless comedy.