21 and Over (2013)

21 and OverReleased: March 1, 2013. Directed by: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore. Starring: Miles Teller, Justin Chon, Skylar Astin. Runtime: 93 min.

Since I’m turning 19 today, I thought this would be an okay film for the occasion. I’m not turning 21 anytime soon, but the legal drinking age in Canada is 19 – and I don’t think there are any movies out there called “19 and Over, Eh?” This was on my PVR so I thought I’d give it a watch. Even though this is from the writers of “The Hangover,” it’s still a bit more like “Project X” – so that’s a misstep. At least this movie has a half-decent storyline and isn’t shot in the found footage format.

Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) is turning twenty-one years old, and two of his high school best pals, Miller (Miles Teller) and Casey (Skylar Astin) are hell-bent on giving him the night of his life, all on the eve of a big medical school interview. They take him out and show him a good time, just like they intended to do; but when Jeff passes out, neither Miller or Casey can remember his address to get him home. And his father is a total dick(tator), so if they don’t get him home in time, someone’s gonna get hurt real bad. The two friends go on a charade of finding someone who might know where Jeff lives, but it’s going to prove to be harder than they thought.

Friends are made during; Casey gets a love interest named Nicole (Sarah Wright), and an eccentric character called the Chief, who looks kind-of like Chris Elliot. Friendships are also in-genuinely tested. Ridiculous villains surface, like a person who Jeff accidentally hits with a dart; and a fraternity of Latin college girls, and how they become villains is somewhat amusing but predictable.

It’s a little bit disappointing that Jeff is passed out for a fair majority of the film, because he’s sorta funny while he’s drunk. The sight gag while he’s half-streaking is a little priceless. He has a bra on and a teddy bear glued to his privates. What happens later is a bit disturbing regarding that. It’s sort-of another sight gag taken out of the “Harold and Kumar” franchise’s handbook, and that isn’t the only thing. Jeff mirrors Kumar; they both have medical interviews the next day, and their dads play heavy influences in their lives to become doctors.

The film analyses the true stresses of university fairly well, and that’s something one doesn’t see very often in stupid college movies. And this movie is very stupid, too. It’s also disappointing that Jeff is passed out a lot, because he’s only likeable character in the movie (other than Nicole). You won’t be forgetting Chang’s any time soon, because Casey and Miller combined annoyingly say his name at least fifty times. They never say a simple ‘Jeff’, it’s always his full name. It would be a decent drinking game for people who want to get wasted  if you take a shot every time they say his name. Oddly enough, Casey or Miller don’t even have last names that get revealed to us!

I chuckled occasionally during, and laughed out loud probably about five or six times. (The first laugh-out-loud moment comes in the form of urination twenty-four minutes in.) But that isn’t enough to keep me satisfied during this film because the plot’s just very silly and a waste of time. Miller is occasionally racist and very unlikeable and he swears a lot, and there’s a running joke of him (a what, 21 or 22-year-old) where he wants to screw Casey’s sixteen-year-old sister. I don’t mind constant swearing in comedies – but it has to make me laugh or be occasionally amusing, but once a film just swears just to swear and the jokes constantly miss, it becomes bothersome.

Casey’s likeable sometimes but he still doesn’t treat his friend with much respect and I didn’t really care for him – the friendships just aren’t believable. Astin as Casey doesn’t have many memorable lines, and he is extremely bland. His performance in “Pitch Perfect” must have been a fluke because he is so boring here. Miller might be unlikeable because he doesn’t give a crap about Chang’s future because he forces him to go out that night, but he does have a few memorable lines. He’s one of those lazy characters that doesn’t apply himself. The character arcs are just lame.

The whole movie’s lame, really. At least “Project X” had a lot of boobs, this has three pairs and they’re all forgettable and very quick, but a funny spanking scene might just make up for it. There are lame bar montages and some disgusting sight gags, but the funny ones make up for one gross slow motion one. There’s a scene where the film shows some potential in a series of drinking games but the film falls flat again. Some occurrences don’t make sense and are just random to keep the film going. Anyway, If you liked “Project X”, you might like this, because it’s a bit stronger than that crappy party movie – but if you didn’t like that film, just avoid this one, too.

Score38/100

Pitch Perfect (2012)


Pitch Perfect

Release Date: October 5, 2012

Director: Jason Moore

Stars: Anna Kendrick, Britany Snow, Rebel Wilson

Runtime: 112 min

Tagline: Get Pitch Slapped

TV Director Jason Moore (Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill) brings his talent to the big screen with Pitch Perfect, a great music comedy.

Beca (Anna Kendrick) is an aspiring Disc Jockey, who gets forced by her father to attend college before following her dreams in Los Angeles. She ends up attending Barden University, where she soon joins the school’s all-girl a capella singing group, The Bellas. She knows that they sound beautiful together, but the (ever-so A-ca-clichéd) leader of the group, Aubrey (Anna Camp), doesn’t like to stray away from her set design, or really try anything new for that matter. Beca just may be the one to change the Bellas for the better by adding energy and pizaz to the group, help them out in the competition, and make a few friendships in the process.

Going into this film, I really didn’t know what to expect. It seemed that it had pretty sweet reception, so I guess I expected it to be a little good. It’s probably one of the last films I’d see in theatres right about now, but I saw it. And you know what, I enjoyed it a little more than I’d like to admit. It’s actually rather fun, and the hot girls help a lot, too.

In the cinema world, this is all fairly original. It’s a lot predictable, but that doesn’t keep it from being enjoyable. The pay-off is pretty great. The same premise of all those competitive dance and cheerleading films is offered here. So, in that way, it feels like the atmosphere of some Bring it On flick. The romance part of it all is offered, too. It isn’t exactly the most original atmosphere, because we’ve felt it all before. What sets this film apart is that it isn’t dancing or cheerleading (obviously), it’s singing. And I can’t really recall another film that the premise was a singing competition.* I say in the cinema world, that’s a pretty darn original concept; but in the general popular cultural world, this feels reminiscent of TV’s Glee. That’s just all the music and stuff, but this does have the tendency to feel fairly fresh and new.

*Side Note: Can you guys?

The music is really great, and a soundtrack that would be really cool to add to a collection of any sort. There’s a nice mash of rock and pop and rap, and practically whatever else. There’s catchy tunes of all sorts, which really makes the film lots of fun.

The only flaws that were presented is that it could just get really predictable, and in some scenes I just felt a little worn out.

I usually really hate boy bands, but the main rival singing group of the Bellas, The Trouble Makers, is actually pretty good.

All of the characters are actually rather good and mostly likeable. Beca is really reserved, so when she breaks out of her tender shell, it’s great. Some are really annoying, but in the end, a lot of them have changes of heart. I liked the characters, and I could only count the ones that I didn’t like on one hand. There are scene stealers all over the place. Without surprise, Rebel Wilson’s Fat Amy is the largest (oops, no pun intended) scene stealer, and she brings that same comedic timing as she did in Bridesmaids. You’re going to be have to be with a name like that, anyway. Some other scene stealers include Lilly, the quiet Asian girl whose eyes make her look a little like that really creepy chick from the trailers of Frankenweenie. Also, the surprise appearance by Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad) and his character’s larger friend, Justin, just make a perfect team. The great thing is that every character is developed, and they all get their chances to shine at some point in the film.

At points the film does get pretty ridiculous and strange, especially when the group initiations are happening for that one scene, or like the oddball, yet hilarious, announcers for the singing competition (played by John Michael Higgins, and Elizabeth Banks [who also helped produce the film]). Like I said in my previous sentence, it’s pretty strange. Strangely entertaining, that is. The atmosphere isn’t something all that special, but it’s the characters, music, Anna Kendrick, and mostly because I didn’t have a ride home, that convinced me stay until the very end. Something Anna Kendrick’s character doesn’t like to do.* The comedy that is offered can be a little too spaced-out for my liking, but when the jokes are made, they can hit pretty hard.

*Side Note: Sheesh. I really don’t understand how some people don’t stay until the very end. That’s usually the best part!

The song mash-ups and set designs and all that are really nice and fun, and something to tap one’s foot to. The wardrobe is okay, because the Bellas’ uniform is that of a practical flight attendent. During the auditions, the filmmakers put them all together so they’re all singing the song. It’s really cool and funny; it’s something I’ve seen on American Idol (or any other singing show) before, but it’s cool to see it in a film.

Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp, Skylar Astin, Ben Platt, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Kelly Jakle, Alexis Knapp and Adam Devine star in Pitch Perfect.

Pitch Perfect offers a fun experience that is worth the look. It has great music, a pretty good plot, great characters, a great ensemble, and there’s just a lot of things to love about this one. It’s entertaining, and my have flaws because of its wicked predictability, but that doesn’t stop this film from being a foot-tapping crowd pleaser.

80/100