'21 and Over' a 'Hangover'-like romp with the punchline 'Jeff Chang'
Oh, for those innocent days of yore, when "The Hangover" was a malady and not a movie, when the words Zach Galifianakis were as alien as Klaatu barada nikto.
It seems like millennia since the binge comedy became the new normal. But here comes 21 and Over, taking rude to a new level of crude, a postracial romp through one epic night on one Asian American collegian's 21st birthday.
A couple of Hangover scribes cowrote and directed this sometimes inspired, often funny, and occasionally psychotic pub crawl through the long, dark night of Jeff Chang's soul. Scott Moore and Jon Lucas hope we know that it's not "ripping off" if you're ripping off yourself.
Jeff Chang (Justin Chon from Twilight) is a catchphrase, a punch line, and a punching bag all in one. As in "Just one beer, Jeff Chang." And "I think we killed Jeff Chang."
He's the Ken Jeong Hangover character here, a wild-partying break from Asian stereotypes. All he may want to do is sleep-in the night before a big internship interview. But his gonzo pal Miller (Miles Teller of Project X) and more responsible friend Casey (Skylar Astin of Pitch Perfect) want to get him blind drunk.
All they have to do is take him back to his apartment, sober and cleaned up, by the time the kid's comically stern dad (Francois Chau) shows up. Which, we guess from the film's opening scene, they won't manage. Because Miller and Casey are naked and branded, stalking across campus in the early morning light, muttering "This never happened" when we first meet them.
Lucas and Moore swap the homophobic riffs of The Hangover for comical jabs at race - stumbling into a Latina sorority, a minefield of Asian jokes, and the odd Jewish jab.
The dizzying drinking montage of how hapless Jeff Chang got into his stoned state is hilarious. But the movie becomes a drag when a gun shows up, when Jeff Chang's dark secret and Miller's embarrassing revelation come out, and when the drunken-driving sight gag arrives.
21 and Over **1/2 (out of four stars)
Directed and written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. With Miles Teller and Justin Chon. Distributed by Relativity.
Running time: 1 hour, 30 mins.
Parent's guide: R (crude and sexual content, profanity, graphic nudity, drugs and drinking)
Playing at: area theaters