21 & Over review

College – a time of excitement, experimentation and adventure. Not to mention copious amount of drink and (fumbling attempts at) sex. These nuances of the education system have been well documented in cinema in recent years; sometimes successfully – American Pie, Road Trip, Old School – and sometimes not so successfully – Harold and Kumar and any of the 3 or 4 or 5 American Pie spin-offs you care to choose.

In keeping with its predecessors, 21 & Over's dedication to all things boozy and boobie ensures it’s in keeping with so many of the college comedies that have already come and gone, but let’s be honest – if you're sat in the cinema waiting for 21 to roll, that’s exactly what you've come to see. And it doesn’t disappoint …

A nod has to be paid to a handful of crazy support characters who help push the story along while also capturing the insanity of college (and people in general), but this is very much a two-horse race. Teller's Miller and Astin’s Casey work together brilliantly, like an adolescent Vince Vaughan and Owen Wilson ala Wedding Crashers. And this fast-talking, beer-ponging duo are backed up by the comedically catalytic Jeff Chang (Chon), who has an undeniable element of The Hangover’s Alan to him. But thanks to enough booze to slay an entire college dorm, his time on screen (while conscious) is limited, and when he is awake he occupies the sort of "moral" tale of the story so most of the laughs come courtesy of Miller and Casey.

That said, Chang does have the (mis)fortune of playing the punchline in some eye-wateringly funny (painful) physical comedy sketches which, along with the F-bomb riddled script, mark this clearly as the brainchild of the same minds who brought us the crowbar in a car boot scene in The Hangover. And credit to them – and Chang – for their dedication in the outstanding(ly cringing) tampon sketch. Yeeeshh.

But "balls out" humour aside, there is a slightly deeper level to 21 & Over; behind the boisterousness and bravado of youth, this is a film about the distance that grows between friends as time passes and about the challenge to stay together. Think American Pie meets Superbad. At it's simplest, 21 & Over is a fun film that passes with distinction at putting you in a good mood. But be warned – chances are it will also make you want to round up your buddies and hit the town (followed by the floor, face first), so just remember to tell someone where you live so you can get home …

21 & Over at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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