Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: Movie 43 vs. 21 and Over, two gross-out not-quite-teen films with veteran comedy directors.
PremiseIt is hard to guess the premise of Movie 43 from its title alone—is it a movie filled with 43-year-olds? Containing 43 storylines? About someone obsessed with the number 43? Having watched the trailer, however, an ambiguous title seems appropriate. We are not entirely convinced that the film has a plot; the action seems to revolve around lots of famous people looking silly and making toilet-humor jokes. 21 and Over seems relatively simple. Two college kids (Miles Teller and Skylar Astin) decide to surprise their best friend, studious Jeff Chang (Justin Chong), on his 21st birthday. As you may have guessed, their surprise involves plying Jeff with as many shots as possible; drunken chaos ensues, and Jeff is separated from his friends and possibly arrested. Unfortunately for Jeff, his 21st birthday is also the day before his MCAT.Advantage: 21 and Over
CastMovie 43 boasts a roster of stars, former stars, comedians, and semi-famous actors, including Halle Berry, Gerard Butler, Emma Stone, Uma Thurman, Richard Gere, Jack McBrayer, Elizabeth Banks, Bobby Cannavale, Hugh Jackman, Johnny Knoxville, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jason Sudeikis, Kate Winslet, Kate Bosworth, Justin Long, and two real-life couples playing couples: Anna Faris and Chris Pratt, and Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber. The only face we recognize in 21 and Over is that of Miles Teller, who manages to look particularly fresh-faced and youthful. We’re all for young talent, and do worry that Movie 43‘s overloaded cast will lead to some sort of New Year’s Eve/Valentine’s Day fiasco, but 43’s cast has our interest piqued. However did they reel in so many actors, some of whom are actually talented?Advantage: Movie 43
DirectorsWhile 21 and Over is directed by The Hangover’s Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, Movie 43’s credited directors include Elizabeth Banks (her directorial debut), Practical Magic‘s Griffine Dunne, blockbuster man Brett Ratner, and one half of the Farrelly brothers, Peter. Here’s hoping too many cooks don’t spoil the broth.Advantage: Movie 43
HijinksIn Movie 43, Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott capture a leprechaun, Halle Berry ruins a blind child’s birthday party (for shame!), Chloë Grace Moretz gets her period, and Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber party like it’s 1985. In 21 and Over, Jeff and his friends play beer pong, ride mechanical bulls, party with large-breasted women, vomit, get spanked, cross-dress, steal a golf cart, steal a gun, witness one or more faux-lesbian makeout sessions, and break into a sorority house. All pretty run-of-the-mill stuff, but no one picks on a child or abuses a person of below-average height, so…Advantage: 21 and Over
Father-Son RelationshipsBoth films seem to include overbearing parents, albeit with very different parenting techniques. In Movie 43, the adult and child roles are reversed: Schreiber decides juvenile humiliation is the best way to give his homeschooled son a “normal teenage experience.” He makes fun of his son’s body and excludes him from parties. 21 and Over features a more conventional father-son relationship. Jeff’s dad is the strict, ambitious, and afraid to show emotion. Nutty parents are more fun than the rea deal.Advantage: Movie 43
Verdict:In spite of our fondness for Miles Teller and young adult shenanigans, gross-out not-quite-teen movies are a tired genre; do we really need another Harold & Kumar/Old School/Dude Where’s My Car?/American Pie/Van Wilder? And, as unfortunate as it may turn out to be, we’re too curious about 43‘s cast not to see it.Winner: Movie 43
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