Friday, March 1, 2013

21 and Over

Quentin: We're talking about 21 and Over today. When you read the description “American teen comedy,” you know exactly what you’re getting into, right?

Jake: Absolutely.

Jason: The setup is painfully simply. It’s not necessary to score points for originality.

Jake: Just execute it well.

Quentin: Which, at the end of the day, they didn't really do here.

Jason: I wanted to like it more than I did.

Jake: Me too. 

Quentin: This was written by the same two dudes who wrote The Hangover

Jake: Which was way better.

Quentin: Yeah. This time they really got lazy. What about that central obstacle?

Jason: Wow. I could see you two shaking your heads.

Jake: I can’t believe the script got a green light without some random intern stating the obvious.

Quentin: If they had, there wouldn't be any story.

Jason: 21 and Over is about three friends—amigos if you will—who reunite for Jeff Chang’s 21st birthday. Jeff’s two best friends from high school, Casey and Miller, visit him at his college to celebrate.

Quentin: It involves yet another cold opening, followed by “One Day Earlier.” I have repeatedly asked Hollywood to retire this storytelling technique, but clearly my message has not been received.

Jake: It’s the exact same setup as The Hangover.

Quentin: Only with a younger cast.

Jason: It’s the same setup as Dude, Where’s My Car? too.

Jake: It’s also the night before Jeff Chang’s interview for medical school. So, naturally, they take him out and get him shit faced. After a night of bar hopping, Jeff Chang is passed out and his two amigos don’t know how to get him home. They don’t know where he lives and they don’t know where they are. That’s what Quentin means by the central obstacle. The next hour or so literally involves Casey and Miller trying to figure out where they are and where Jeff Chang lives. That’s the spine of the movie, right there.

Quentin: Smart phones, anyone? GPS?

Jake: Seriously. I couldn't believe it. That’s why Quentin and I were shaking our heads. Neither Casey nor Miller pulls out a phone. Anyone over the age of 12 could have solved this problem in five minutes or less. I’m supposed to believe that both of these guys came to visit their friend, but neither one of them bothered to put his address onto their phone?

Quentin: That’s what we call lazy writing. Because when they were standing on the street, and they realized that they didn't know where they were, and they didn't know where Jeff Chang lived, then every one knows what would happen at that moment.

Jason: They would both reach for their phones.

Quentin: Exactly. But they acted like they didn't even own phones, which made the whole situation look totally moronic. What we’re treated to instead is this annoying and incredibly lame attempt by the writers to justify why they are going forward with this plot anyway. Miller left Jeff Chang’s address at home. Casey checks his  ID, but it has an old address. And then they go off looking for this guy Randy, who is quite possibly the creepiest bully in movie history, because a hot chick told them that Randy has the address of everyone at the college on his phone.

Jason: Like there’s only one person in this town with a magical smart phone.

Jake: Even if they didn't have phones, why didn't they just find a dude with a laptop and some WIFI?

Jason: There has to be an online campus directory, right?

Quentin: News flash, writers. We don’t buy this bullshit. You could drop me in the middle of a strange city, and I would be able to figure out where I am and how to get out of there. It's called Google Maps.

Jake: It’s 2013, for Christ’s sake. Don’t tell me a story like it’s 1989.

Quentin: Unless your story is set in 1989.

Jason: We all agree that part was an epic fail, so let’s move on. We don’t read reviews before we see movies, but I did read a headline that said 21 and Over is as juvenile as they come. So I thought, “Great, I’m a juvenile. I should love it.” But it was actually kind of depressing for teenagers. When did 21 become the new 40?

Jake: I know what you mean. These guys haven’t even graduated from college, and already they’re having a collective mid-life crisis.

Jason: Is that what we have to look forward to?

Quentin: Jesus, I hope not.

Jason: There’s all this, “I hate my life, I hate my dad, I want to travel and write music and run off to South America with random chicks I meet at frat parties” vibe. 

Jake: There’s definitely a Dead Poets Society, anti-establishment, carpe diem theme at work. And I should be onboard with that, but it felt forced. Like the writers didn't really believe it.

Quentin: Let’s face it. The movie should work on paper.

Jason: Because it’s a classic story. The comically dark night of the soul that ends with the glorious rise of the morning sun. Friendship and following your bliss rule the day. So what went wrong?

Quentin: They didn't trust themselves. They’re coming off The Hangover. They’re sticking close to what they know. I don’t think they were writing from their heart with this one. I think they were writing what they thought people expected from them.

Jason: Did anyone else notice the casual racism?

Jake: Like Ellen Barkin on The New Normal.

Jason: Yes. There’s a lot of that going on here, and I haven’t decided how I feel about it yet. This movie attempts to squeeze A LOT of laughs out of racially tinged humor. The gang of Latina women, the Asian jokes—it was frequent enough that I noticed it.

Quentin: It has that “let’s offend everyone equally” mentality.

Jake: Comedy gets a pass when it comes to race.

Jason: Does it? I don’t understand that.

Quentin: The banter between Casey and Miller was a thing of beauty in small flashes.

Jake: Like their riffs on Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Cameron Diaz.

Quentin: Very funny stuff. And I liked the homage to the party games, from beer pong, to suck and blow, to drinking a gallon of milk.

Jason: Gross.

Jake: And there was the prerequisite guy-on-guy kiss.

Jason: Which they did not commit to.

Jake: Not like Scott and Kutcher. Very disappointing.

Quentin: What about the guy who played Miller?

Jake: Miles Teller. He was in Rabbit Hole, with Nicole Kidman. But he was also the best friend in the remake of Footloose.

Jason: The Chris Penn role?

Jake: Yeah.

Jason: The original is one of Travis’s favorite movies.

Quentin: Did you watch the remake? Wasn’t Efron supposed to be in that?

Jake: Yes, but the kid they got instead didn't suck. I don’t remember his name. It’s a highly entertaining film.

Quentin: You’re kidding me, right?

Jake: No. Watch it, and then look me in the eye and tell me you didn't get totally wrapped up in the story. Yes, the dancing in the warehouse is ridiculous. But it holds up, even without Kevin Bacon. It’s cheesy and cliché ridden and it all works. And Miles Teller is good. And he’s good in this movie, too. He reminds me of John Cusack in Say Anything, which, incidentally, came out in 1989.

Quentin: Lloyd Dobler.

Jake: “Kick boxing. Sport of the future.”

Jason: “I’m looking for a dare to be great situation.”

Quentin: Okay. You two could play that game all day. What’s our advice on this movie?

Jake: Skip it until it comes to free streaming.

Quentin: And next week, come back to find out what we thought of Oz: The Great and Powerful, starring the ever elusive James Franco. Actor, author, performance artist, porn star—

Jake: He is not a porn star.

Quentin: Are you sure?

Jake: I’m positive.

Quentin: Okay, then. You heard it here first. James Franco is not a porn star.

1 comment:

  1. Good review. I just didn’t laugh, and that was a big problem for me. The characters also didn’t do much either.