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'Hangover' writers show promise in directorial debut


Justin Chon (right) stars in the one-wild-night flick,

by Jase Howell

The directorial debut of writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the minds behind “The Hangover” films and “Project X,” is exactly what one would expect.

“21 and Over” is about a wild night of debauchery, sexual situations, drugs, alcohol and plenty of outlandish acts of stupidity. Yes, apparently Hollywood thought we needed another one of these; but, considering the great year the industry had in 2012 — a year very much on display at the Oscars — I suppose we can forgive studios’ interests in making some quick bucks on taking money from teenage boys and 20-something males. Rest assured, as long they’re still going to theaters Hollywood will keep churning out “21 and Over”-type films. Why stop when the money is always there to be made?

Anyway, you’ve probably seen most of this before. Miller (Miles Teller, “Project X”) and Casey (Skylar Astin, “Pitch Perfect”) are visiting their friend, Jeff Chang (Justin Chon, “Twilight”) for his 21st birthday at an Ivy League school. Upon their arrival they find Jeff has a very important interview the next morning for med-school acceptance arranged by his overbearing father. Hence, the night of debauchery to celebrate Chang’s birthday is out of the question.

Well, not really; after all, if it was we wouldn’t have what passes as a comedy here.

The old high school friends go into the night drinking anything but turpentine and being obnoxious on a bar crawl through the city. At one of their early stops they meet Chang’s friend, Nicole (Sarah Wright), and Casy falls immediately for her. At the same stop, Miles and Chang get into an altercation with a psychopathic male cheerleader (Jonathan Keltz). Both Nicole and the cheerleader will figure prominently in the all-night affair, and this is where things spin out of control. Realizing Chang can’t even speak, let alone walk, Miller and Casey are now in charge of getting him back for his interview; however, as they’ve forgotten where he lives this is a problem.

The film features breaking into sorority houses, disrupting pep rallies, letting buffalo loose and, of course, fighting with a male cheerleading squad, climbing a tower of drinking games, and avoiding police. During most of this the mostly-passed out Chang takes the majority of the abuse.

There really isn’t anything here we haven’t seen before. It’s kind of same recycled story — they’ve just placed in new actors and loud club music. But, to be fair there is some redemption to this film. A few of the wild antics actually work, but what really keeps the film together is the screenplay by Lucas and Moore that does allow for some pretty funny banter. Vulgar and perhaps inappropriate, yes, but still funny at times. This was one of the secrets to the success of “The Hangover” films.

It also helps that, like “The Hangover,” the key characters can pull off the panicked scenarios so well. “The Hangover” launched several careers, but will “21 and Over” do the same? Maybe. Teller, Astin and Chon all show promise, and make this film funnier than it probably ever should have been. It may not be completely balanced between actual wit and sophomoric humor, but it surpasses the likes of, say, “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder.”

Lucas and Moore are close to being the next Farelly brothers. They have already grasped the concept of clever, quick and at times offensively idiosyncratic dialogue. Now they just need to harness some original ideas, or the one wild night theme will get redundant real fast. They had enough saved up for this one to make it at least somewhat entertaining, but what about next time? Hopefully they have greater goals than striving for just another “Hangover.”

Log Cabin offers art classes, workshops


The Center's Executive Director Dave Sanders helps Elizabeth Mixa with her silver jewelry pendant.

New six-week Stained Glass, Silver Jewelry, Stoneware Pottery and Basketweaving classes begin the week of March 3 at the Log Cabin Center for the Arts, 12700 Southwest Highway in Palos Park.

On Monday, March 4, Stained Glass instruction begins with Harry Meneghini at 6:30 p.m. Beginning Tuesday, March 5, intermediate/advanced silver-smithing class is offered at 2 p.m. by Dan Snyder, while an introductory class for setting stones into silver is offered at 6:30 p.m. by Dave Sanders.

On Thursday, March 7, at 6:30 p.m. classes are offered in Stoneware Pottery by Karen Stasky and in Basketweaving with Jane Dwyer.

Advance registration is required for all classes at the Log Cabin Center for the Arts. Call The Center at 361-3650 or visit thecenterpalos.org.

Broaden Your Horizons

This week

Center Cinema

"Doubt" will be shown this Friday, March 1, at 6:30 p.m., as part of the monthly Center Cinema series at The Center, 12700 Southwest Highway, Palos Park.

Meryl Streep plays Sister Aloysius, who accuses the popular young Father Flynn (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) of an improper relationship with a grade school boy. Doubt ensues.

A discussion follows the movie. Free popcorn is served. No fee is charged but registration is necessary. Call The Center at 361-3650.

Luncheon: America's food system

America's food system is the topic a luncheon program on Tuesday, March 5, from noon to 2 p.m., at The Center, 12700 Southwest Highway, Palos Park.

Lois Lauer will review Michael Pollan's books "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food," and also show some short clips of Pollan explaining his ideas on film. An advocate of unprocessed, local natural food, Pollan presents both a critical and a positive look at what's happening in the American food supply system, tracing our food from the farm fields to our dinner plates.

The luncheon begins at noon, costs $16 and requires reservations. Call The Center at 361-3650.

Children's Farm reopens Saturday

The Children's Farm reopens for the spring season on Saturday. The Children's Farm is located at 12700 Southwest Highway in Palos Park.

Beginning in March, the Children's Farm will be open every Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. until November. Visitors to the farm can tour the barns and see the farm animals. New piglets, lambs, bunnies, chicks, and ducklings are due to arrive before Easter. Families are invited into each animal pen by a farm volunteer who helps children to touch and learn about the animal.

Complimentary pony rides and hayrides are offered every weekend throughout the spring and summer, weather and work permitting.

Admission to the farm is $5 per person, or by a $75 annual family pass. No reservations are required on the weekends from 1 to 4 p.m. The farm is also open for group tours by reservation, and on March 30 by advance tickets for the Easter Egg Roundup.

For more information, call The Center at 361-3650.

Palos Village Players auditions

The Palos Village Players will hold auditions for their upcoming production of "One O'Clock from the House," a comedy by Frank Vickery at 8 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday, March 4 and 6, at All Saints Lutheran Church, 13350 S. La Grange Road in Orland Park. Enter from the rear parking lot.

The play is a scorching comedy of personalities and situations revolving around the funeral of an elderly father. The family includes a cook who bakes almondless almond cakes, a man who is convinced his shopping trolley is a dog that he has taught to beg, and a sister who is a happy inmate at a psychiatric home.

The hilarity includes a posthumous joke played by the father on his daughters. This is not a close-knit family; they've even got the wrong person from the psychiatric home.

The audition consists of readings from the script. Acting experience is helpful but not necessary. The play will be performed May 3 to 11 at the Palos Park Recreation Center, 8901 W. 123rd St.

The Bridge Teen Center events

  • Friday Night Live

Variety

by Brian Lowry

Misjudging the art of judging

As they say, everyone has an opinion. But not all those insights are created equal. Back in 2007, yours truly anointed Simon Cowell "America's critic in chief." The thought at the time was with the "Siskel & Ebert" team over and Richard Roeper holding down the film-criticism fort with rotating guests, the tart Brit had emerged as a rare voice of tough but fair analysis in a showbiz landscape that in broadcast circles, anyway, often seemed split into two camps

Videoview

by Jay Bobbin

(NOTICE: Ratings for each film begin with a 'star' rating