Remember the days following Barack Obama's election, when citizens trumpeted the dawn of a "post-racial" era? If you're still optimistically blowing that horn, this will plug it: "21 & Over," a collegiate comedy apparently aimed at a fresh new generation of bigots.
Misogynists and homophobes, too. But first things first. Writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore make their directorial debut with this younger-skewing repeat of their bad-boy comedy "The Hangover." On the eve of a med-school interview, stressed-out Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) toasts his 21st birthday with straitlaced Casey (Skylar Astin, "Pitch Perfect") and wild-man Miller (Miles Teller, 2011's "Footloose"). One drink becomes three, then 20, and soon the two white guys are dragging an unconscious Asian all over campus.
Is that racist? Not inherently, but Miller, our supposedly lovable loudmouth, affectionately refers to Jeff with an Asian slur, mocks his driving ("Are your eyes open right now? I can't tell") and always calls him "Jeff Chang," as if the surname is the funny part. As a result, the scenes of Jeff's body being dropped, thrown and defaced feel a little dehumanizing. He's a mere prop, like the baby that Zach Galifianakis carried around in "The Hangover." Jeff is, in fact, repeatedly called "the baby."
"21 & Over" doesn't stop there. It also gives us a sorority full of butchy Latinas, two Serbian thugs (at a college?) and one glancing reference to "you Jew."
The worst treatment is saved for women, who are useful mainly when the guys need to wedge a shot-glass somewhere. And only a man would dream up Casey's glittering prize, Nicole (Sarah Wright), a chesty flirt with a lollipop fixation.
All, or at least some, might be forgiven if there were just one likable character or memorable joke.
Well, at least "21 & Over" doesn't mock black people. There aren't any in it.
PLOT On the eve of a big interview, a tightly wound college student cuts loose with two friends. RATING R
CAST Miles Teller, Justin Chon, Skylar Astin, Sarah Wright
BOTTOM LINE Everything you hated about "The Hangover," and nothing you liked, in this racist, misogynistic, unfunny party flick