We get it: The Hangover was a funny film. It made us all laugh uncontrollably in our cinema seats. We get it, we do.
Since then, a stream of Hangover-inspired comedies have been released, each trying to recapture the magic of the original film. All of them tried, yet few of them succeeded. Hell, even the guys who made the original Hangover couldn’t get the sequel to live up to the high expectations set by its predecessor – and it was their idea!
21 and Over is the most recent combatant, trying to impress with more risque humour and half-naked Latino girls. It’s a tired concept, and it’s showing. 21 and Over just couldn’t add anything interesting into the mix.
So, the story goes like this. Casey and Miller are – or were – best friends. This friendship is strained by spending too much time apart at their respective colleges. They go to meet another friend, Jeff, who has just turned twenty-one and is distanced from them too. They want him to go and get drunk with them, but he says no because he has a Med School interview the following morning (set up by his strict Asian Father). They convince him to go out anyway, promising that things won’t get too messy. Then, after a Hangover inspired montage of them all drinking shots from the cleavages of attractive young girls, and one not-so-attractive morbidly obese guy, they lose their aspiring Doctor and cannot remember where he lives. The adventures follow from there.
It was like the writer and director pair – Jon Lucas and Scott Lucas - weren’t even trying to be original. All of this is directly lifted from the original Hangover. The reluctant friend with a massive commitment the following day is convinced to go out, and after a massive night out he is lost, the main story becoming the search to find and get the lost companion home safely. We’ve seen this before, and it was funny then. Don’t get me wrong, the idea of a patrol of wronged Latino fraternity girls hunting Casey and Miller over a stolen spanking is a nice touch, adding a sense of jeopardy to the race to find Jeff. And watching the Casey – Miller relationship reach breaking point is paced nicely throughout. There was also promise of an intriguing subplot surrounding Jeff and his mental health, but that was very anti-climatic and appeared to be merely lazy writing towards the end of the film.
What bothers me the most is that this is a carbon copy of a concept that was just not executed well. It’s a shame, because the characters are likable, but the situation and story are tired and worked to death at this point. Maybe it was a taster – a little something to please our palates for the third Hangover movie. Though if it is, I’m reaching for the napkin and desperately trying to wipe the taste off my tongue.