Asian American representation in 21 and Over


21 and Over is pretty much the college version of the Hangover. The movie comes out this Friday, March 1st, and the trailer for the movie reveals that it centers around a college Asian American guy named Jeff Chang who is turning 21 soon. Jeff’s friends say in the trailer, “We have a moral obligation to get him drunk”. The movie revolves around turing 21 and the madness that goes with. I chose to blog about this movie because Justin Chon, who plays the character Jeff Chang, is on the poster of the movie. So when I saw that I thought that I finally found an American movie with an Asian leading actor. But after seeing the trailer I don’t believe that Justin Chon will be as active in the movie as I originally thought. The movie certainly revolves around him and is about him but he seems to play small parts in the movie.

Jeff has an Americanized personality but still shows signs of the model minority Asian American. He is in college with a 4.0 GPA and the day he turns 21 he has a medical school interview that is extremely important to him. It is cool to see a movie that is about an Asian American but I would have liked to have him play a bigger role in the movie. I’m hoping that I’m wrong, but as big as a character as he is in movie, he does not seem to be the main character. What I got out of the trailer was that he turns 21, goes out to drink with his friends, passes out for awhile, then resurfaces toward morning time. Throughout the movie Jeff is most likely doing something stupid and obnoxious while his friends destroy his liver with alcohol. Asians are seen as light drinkers so a couple of beers would be enough to intoxicate a typical Asian. After Jeff takes his first beer in the trailer, he seems long gone. And while Jeff is running around doing drunk stuff, his friends are enjoying the moment and also babysitting him at the same time. There is where I feel that the main angle of the movie lies. That the movie is going to focus a lot on Jeff’s friends as Jeff’s caretaker. That Jeff is going to disappear or get into trouble and it is going to be up to his friends to save him or keep him out of trouble.

So I believe that it is great that Justin Cho got a role in the movie that revolves around him but it does not truly star him. There seems to be plenty of typical Asian stereotypes surrounding him in the movie such as strict parents, light weight drinker, straight A’s, med school, and to-nice-to-say-no attitude. Like a male version of the lotus blossom women. 

Here is the trailer to the movie.

Here is a couple links to info on the movie.


One thought on “Asian American representation in 21 and Over

  1. This was a very insightful posting, Daniel! Your last point about the movie revolving around Cho but not starring him was exactly on point. He became more of a prop–objectified to further the plot for the other characters.

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