Where to begin? The teddy bear glued to Chang’s (Justin Chong) penis? Ooh, maybe the intimidation ceremony that sees high school buddies branded and walking nude on campus with socks covering their privates?
After all, we’re in the world of John Lucas and Scott Moore, the two writers who drafted The Hangover, recreating their unbridled success narrative with college goers. It is often drunk, offensive, and reaching, elements which fizzle as opposed to entertain.
Scripting crafts three characters broadly, and intertwining an egregiously overdone, strict Asian father as fuel for a lost evening of binge drinking. Chang’s 21st birthday is rife with chaos, hammered and passed out as Casey (Skylar Astin) and Miller (Miles Teller) try to find Chang’s home. Incidents with a sorority and punk male cheerleaders up an ante that barely seems to exist.
“Jokes” come from either desecration of Chang or Miller’s over active, defiantly racist mouth. 21 & Over must contrive itself to invent scenarios for its characters, mindlessly dropping from one location to the next as a dulled Casey tries to hunt down a woman.
Attempts at heart, say bonding between longtime friends who come to realizations they’re drifting apart, try and mitigate damage done by this unusually pale farce. 21 & Over is not so much part of a genre as it is an acquaintance of the burly shock comedy. It is formula first, R-rated with an obsession on nudity and illogically viscous language that exists to be crude sans purpose.
Hangover was smart, despite its implicit stupidity. 21 & Over is simply stupid. Shocks are removed from the process of storytelling as a whole, lumbering as Chang munches on a tampon or Miller chews out of another scenario in search of… an address. That’s what this clunker boils down to, a search for a home these kids are too oblivious to find otherwise. Hangover at least had common decency to look for a person.
Taking place almost entirely in one night, black levels become essential to visual power, and the disc provides remarkable depth plus dimensionality. Photography is almost inherently performed in the cloak of night, making consistency a necessary element. Inside bars, outside on streets, or in the midst of a hostile sorority, 21 & Over performs as needed.
Arri’s Alexa captures black levels and inconsistent high fidelity. Opening credits depict a campus loaded with trees and definition soars. Once into those elements that dim lighting, minutiae such as facial detail disappears. Sharpness, in general, stays in line, yet rarely amounts to a healthy, definable, precise image. 21 & Over appears to have been shot quickly with little regard for its overall visual punch.
Leading credence to that thought is noise, and although not uncommon for low light, digital cinematography, it can be pervasive. Much is hidden in the blacks, while lighted elements take on a digitally grainy facade of unfortunate quality. While imagery is not heavily degraded, it does loosen clarity, which is unusual for the Alexa.
Color timing is predominately warm, with a push into orange for flesh tones and light sources inside bars/buildings. Typical will suffice as a descriptor with regards to saturation.
Lively bars and outstanding balance brings this DTS-HD mix to life, pouring on clarity with regards to the soundtrack and booting up LFE with life. A pep rally/buffalo stampede (!) is the height of audio punch, a mix of separation between channels as panicked party goers flee the scene, music blares with affection for the rears, the center remains peaked, and LFE is booming while people are mauled.
21 & Over does well with crowds, whether locked to a bar or street. Ambiance is typically a powerful conveyor of space, even if it never stands as a sublime experience. Work is obvious within the mix.
Ten whole minutes of bonuses! Hooray! (Note: Not really)
Levels of Intervention detail Justin Chon’s drunken performance as he switches from happy, crazy, and angry drunken stages. Tower of Power focuses on the conception of a winding, eight-floor drinking game. A brief gag reel and the ever present trailers are left on this miniscule disc.
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