21 & Over (2013), directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
All I asked for going into 21 & Over was your basic outrageous comedy that would make me laugh and not piss me off. That’s really it.
I would say 21 & Over is the low point for recent comedy but with The Hangover Part II still lingering like a bad…well, you know, and The Hangover Part III coming out in May I would hate to play favourites. Oh and the trailer for Scary Movie 5 might win that title alone, never mind the full movie.
The biggest problem with 21 & Over is that it simply isn’t funny. Why? Well, for one thing the epic night of drinking plot is wearing thin. The Hangover was a great comedy when it came out, but this is yet another re-creation failing to capture the spark of the original.
Also, is anything truly outrageous anymore? Gross-out and foul comedy used to be hilarious because it flew in the face of stuffy bourgeois society and our parent’s parent’s politics. Now that counterculture has been so firmly devoured by mainstream culture, what used to be delightfully ludicrous is now pointlessly crass. Watching a man throw up in slow motion doesn’t “stick it” to anyone’s precious sensibilities. Our parents watched people throw up in movies when they were growing up. Let’s find something new, kids.
Another thing (and here’s where comedy diehards and bros tune out) is lazy humour based on gender and ethnic stereotypes is really getting old. Comedy is at its best when it’s progressive and challenging the norms. That’s shocking, outrageous comedy. But now, in 2013, when you have a character whose interactions with every other character is based purely on their ethnic background, your film seems simple and outdated.
Don’t get me wrong, everyone is a target: Latinos, Chinese, Serbians, women, homosexuals, Jews. It’s an equal opportunity type of stereotyping. And then film seems to poke fun at itself when the white characters say their feelings are hurt after a joke about white people, but that does nothing. It’s still asking us to laugh at this tired, old schtick throughout the entire film. One tiny piece of wit saves no face.
Actually you know what, I’m going to go out on a rare limb for me and say I enjoyed the more serious moments of this film than I did the comedy. Usually I think trying to have “meaning” or a tidy, loose-string tying ending ruins these type of comedies (Wedding Crashers, Old School, etc.), but in this case the only time the movie ever actually elicited any sort of reaction out of me was during some of the heart-to-hearts between old friends who are falling apart.
Then again, that’s not really a compliment. What I’m trying to say is the movie is so unfunny that I even preferred the dreck, sentimental bits. The only alternatives are a man peeing on people at a bar and jokes about how jocks are secretly gay.
And I know, I read these types of reviews before I see a comedy too and think ‘the bitter, old critic just doesn’t know how to take a joke,’ but for serious guys, this is a terrible movie. It’s not funny. Don’t go see it.
21 & Over is in cinemas now. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.