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Don't hate liking '21 and Over'

| Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Here is a youth comedy that is leering, offensive, politically incorrect, at times even disgusting and, yet, not a bummer. In fact, those who stick with it to the end may find “21 and Over” to be one of the more-appealing movies of the season. Written and directed by “The Hangover” co-writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, it has a crazed, chaotic energy that absolves most of its sins.

To celebrate the 21st birthday of their pal Jeff Chang (Justin Chon), a workaholic premed student, his wild-man pal Miller (Miles Teller) and buttoned-down buddy Casey (Skylar Astin) arrange a pub crawl. Knowing he has a crucial internship interview the next morning, they promise to keep it safe and sane.

He screws up. He trusts them.

The celebration turns into a bender of Australian proportions. Jeff Chang (he is always called by both names, like Meat Loaf) implodes after so many years of repression, drinks himself psychotic, and passes out. Miller and Casey drag the limp birthday boy across the hard-partying college town in a fruitless search for his apartment. En route, they run afoul of a hyperaggressive pep squad captain, enrage a Latina girl gang, start a buffalo stampede, throw comatose Jeff Chang off two roofs and commit a hodgepodge of felonies.

You root for them, nevertheless, because the actors are likable, the mayhem is cartoonishly overblown, there's a nice undercurrent of believable friendship and the pace never slackens long enough for your thoughts to turn judgmental. It's a cheerful jolt of Grade-A idiocy.

Colin Covert reviews movies for the Star Tribune (Minneapolis).

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