BLOGS

21 and Over: Project X Goes to College

by Angel Cohn March 1, 2013 6:00 am
<I>21 and Over</I>: <I>Project X</I> Goes to College

Last year's Project X took the house party movie to the next level by introducing some gross stuff we hadn't seen before, and 21 and Over seems to be continuing in that genre as a "one wild night in college" movie -- like Superbad on steroids.

We open quickly on a shot of a two naked guys (clad in only socks, Red Hot Chili Peppers-style) walking across a college campus, before we flashback to the day before to see what insane events unfolded to get them to this point. Casey (Skylar Astin, a.k.a. "that dude from Pitch Perfect") and Miller (Miles Teller, who was also in Project X) are high school friends who head to a lovely college town to celebrate the 21st birthday of their third amigo, Jeff Chang (Justin Chon). Problem is that Jeff Chang (who is always referred to by both his first and last name) has a big medical school interview the next morning and his overbearing doctor father (played by Francois Chau, in a bit of genius casting my fellow Lost fans will appreciate) insists that he stay home and get a good night's sleep, otherwise he'll destroy his future. But Miller is more than a little persistent (it might have something to do with the air horn he carries around with him) and they go out for just one little drink...

Naturally this turns into a night of debauchery, starting simply with shots... then getting complicated when a tipsy Jeff Chang throws a dart into the face of a douchey dude named Randy (Jonathan Keltz). Casey doesn't witness this dart disaster because he's busy trying to make time with Nicole (Sarah Wright, who plays Jerry's hot daughter from Parks and Recreation), who wants him to break out of his stiff soon-to-be Wall Street mentality and live in the moment. The boys are rushed out of the bar, but then decide to continue their bar crawl, getting increasingly more intoxicated to the point that Jeff Chang is unconscious. Problem is, his friends have no idea where he lives or how to get him home for his interview.

Then the movie gets a little Ferris Bueller, with an angry Dr. Chang out roaming the streets looking for his son, and the boys trying to find ways to enjoy what's left of their night (which includes going to a Latina sorority to look for Nicole, going to a bonfire that has an actual Buffalo at it and enjoying a house party that involves copious amount of drinking games) as well as locating Jeff Chang's address. Through the course of their capers, they realize that they have grown deeply apart and don't even know why Jeff Chang carries a loaded firearm or why he was arrested, or that Miller dropped out of school. They mostly just want to get Jeff Chang back to his house before his father finds out that he's missing.

It's not the most difficult plot or compelling screenplay, but it does have some very realistic moments of those days in college where you don't want to let go of your old friends with whom you've fallen out of touch. And if you just like stupid gross things, there are a plenty; from one of the most disgusting vomit visuals I've ever been privy to, to very wrong things with tampons, a charging buffalo and a few other "surprises" that wouldn't be out-of-character for the likes of Jackass's Steve-O.

The believable actors really carry this movie because while they seem like obnoxious pigs (and they are, to some extent), the characters actually convey the college vibe very well. The one big problem here is the Casey/Nicole relationship, which seems oddly shoehorned in (much like Astin's Pitch Perfect romance). It doesn't help matters that Wright looks like the oldest college coed ever. Don't get me wrong, she's a very attractive woman, but she's almost 30... and looks it. I'd buy her as a sexy TA maybe, but not as a 21-year-old senior going off to Spring Break. And their relationship takes up far too much time, which could have been better spent having the lovely Latina ladies torture the boys some more, or with weirdo PJ Brill (Dustin Ybarra) complaining about party expenses. Still, if you remove that unbelievable dating scenario from the movie, the rest of the movie is just mindlessly entertaining, with a surprisingly few endearing moments and some really foul humor. That poor teddy bear.

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