21 & Over the teen version of The Hangover

21 & Over the teen version of The Hangover

21 & Over
2 stars
Rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, some graphic nudity, drugs and drinking
20th Century Fox
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray digital download and on demand

There’s a reason “21 & Over” feels like a low-rent, teen version of “The Hangover.” It was written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the two scribes who created the comedy blockbuster. Only this time, they’re out of new ideas.

“21 & Over” centers on Miller (Miles Teller), Casey (Skylar Astin) and Jeff (Justin Chon), three high school buddies who have gone their separate ways but reconnect to celebrate Jeff’s 21st birthday. Because that’s thin plotting for a movie, Lucas and Moore up the ante by setting Jeff’s celebration the night before an important medical-school interview. Nevertheless, the three friends go out, drink too much and find themselves in loads of trouble.

As with “The Hangover,” each of the characters responds to the crisis uniquely. Miller is a free-spirited party boy who oversteps every boundary. Casey is a straight arrow who continually tries to rein things in. And Jeff gets so blasted that he’s at the mercy of his pals. Since the film is rated R, viewers get plenty of profanity, nudity and general debauchery, some of which adds to the plotting but much of which is gratuitous.

Why Lucas and Moore are so fixated on parties gone bad is difficult to say, but they aren’t furthering their careers. As their directorial debut, “21 & Over” feels like a sad attempt to recapture the magic that made “The Hangover” a hit. But this film is redundant, less frequently funny and populated by actors who aren’t at the level of Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis.

That’s not to say the “21 & Over” cast is bad, but the names don’t light up a marquis, and the script doesn’t take up the slack. Not only do Lucas and Moore borrow freely from their previous work, they owe a debt to better teen comedies, including “Risky Business” and “American Pie.”

There’s no reason to watch “21 & Over” because everyone knows the story already, and it was better the first time around.

The DVD has no special features, but the Blu-ray contains making-of shorts and a gag reel.

By Forrest Hartman

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