21 AND OVER (Jon Lucas and Scott Moore). 93 minutes. Opens Friday (March 1). See listings. Rating: NNN
21 And Over is a lot like that underachieving student who's exceptionally bright but plays dumb.
The raunchy college comedy frequently gives in to the peer pressure of its genre, aspiring to be as crude and sophomoronic as the American Pie movies and their ilk. Yet for all its booze-fuelled tomfoolery, the film has frequent glimmers of wit and hilarity, along with a solid grasp of today's young adults.
The Hangover writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore bring their flair for ticklishly offensive banter to yet another tale of three guys enjoying a wildly intoxicated night on the town. Miller (Miles Teller channelling Vince Vaughn), Casey (Skylar Astin) and Jeff (Justin Chon) are high school buds who lost touch in their college years but reunite for debauchery on Jeff's 21st birthday.
Their misadventures involve sexual assault, driving while intoxicated and the potential for manslaughter around every corner - the height of immature comedy, to be sure. But then there are alarmingly mature moments dealing with the difficulty of staying connected when age creates distance, and the intensely competitive pressures plaguing college students today.
The story goes to some pretty dark places, which is why the simple-minded ending is a grade-A cop-out. Once again, lazy wins the day.
21 And Over manages to deliver laughs and stand out from most of the current dreck catering to young audiences. Of course, when the bar is set so low, it's not too difficult to ride the bell curve to the top of the class.