Justin Chon has one crazy-ass night in 21 & Over

21 & Over is complicated. The new comedy starring Justin Chon, set over the course of one crazy, drunken college night, is gross, crass and guaranteed to offend some sensibilities. There were moments I found myself wincing at bro-blatant bro-ness of the bro-humor. But it also wades into some very surprising, interesting territory, and takes its lead into places I've seen few Asian American characters go onscreen.

And we get to see Justin Chon's nekkid ass. A lot of it.

The story: Straight-A college student Jeff Chang has always done what's expected of him. But when his two best friends surprise him with a visit for his 21st birthday -- on the eve of an important med school interview -- he decides to loosen the chain for a night. Of course, one drink turns into twenty. Chaos ensues. And did I mention that Jeff's Hardass Asian Father is going to "honor kill" him if he screws up that interview? Jeff's buddies must get him back home before his life is ruined by their debauchery. Here's the trailer:

The movie is like the unholy spawn of Harold & Kumar, The Hangover and Weekend at Bernie's -- and Justin Chon is the Bernie, as he spends a considerable portion of the film unconscious (in addition to vomiting, mostly naked, and thrown from dangerous heights). He's comic fire, but alas, most of the movie focuses on his two buddies trying to get him out of the night's mess. It's precisely the kind of outrageous flick you'd expect from the screenwriters behind The Hangover.

It's also everything you'd expect from the genre. Jokes laced with racism, misogyny and homophobia whiz by like slings and arrows throughout the film, and rarely hit their mark. There's a sequence at a sorority house that had me cringing (though the opening scene foreshadows that the guys get what's coming to them for their bad behavior). This is the genre. I'm not giving it a boys-will-be-boys pass, but I will say there's more to this film than just frat boy shenanigans.

Here's what's kind of fascinating about 21 & Over. Thanks to a fearless, ahem, balls-out performance from Justin Chon, we get a sympathetic, three-dimensional, fully-fleshed Asian American movie character. How often does that happen in a Hollywood film? Somewhere between the beer pong and bare breasts, there's room for a story about an Asian guy we can actually give a shit about.

And not all is as it seems. This is also a story about once-close friends who have drifted out of each others' lives, and over the course of the film, his buddies discover that perhaps Jeff Chang isn't the honor roll model minority Tiger Son everyone thinks he is. Couched in this raunchy comedy, 21 & Over dares to touch upon issues of mental health and the suffocating pressure we put on ourselves to achieve. I'm not saying it's particularly deep -- this is a comedy, after all -- but it's there, and it's surprising.

In a weird way, Justin Chon's Jeff Chang is an interesting parallel to Gedde Watanabe's notorious Long Duck Dong from 1984's Sixteen Candles, of all characters. In their respective movies, they both find themselves passed out after a crazy night of drunken depravity. The extraordinary difference, if you can look past the teddy bear attached to his crotch, is the attempt to draw Jeff Chang with some semblance of humanity, rather than a simple racial caricature. And that only took twenty years.

21 & Over opens today in theaters everywhere.

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