Shultzy's Sausage Outranks Sausage Heavy 21 & Over"/>
By Nathan Ureta
The fourth starring role, a crotch riding teddy bear, out of view.
The Dinner: "The Shultzy," at Shultzy's Sausage (4114 University Way NE)
The Movie: 21 & Over, at Sundance Cinemas (4500 9th Avenue NE)
The Screenplate: Last summer, the University District got a piece of Hollywood action when Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, writers of The Hangover, filmed their latest movie at the University of Washington. As a Husky, seeing friends and classmates as extras and recognizing familiar spots like Red Square had some novelty, but after the first few minutes, 21 & Over proved to be an unfunny and incompetent college comedy, unworthy of its local buzz.
In line with the college theme, I visit Shultzy's Sausage, a famous UW joint. It's a sausage restaurant and bar a block away from campus on University Way, where much of Over's hijinks were shot and it feels like a college staple: the dimly lit restaurant is lined with beer memorabilia and photos of locals, giving the place a hearty pub atmosphere. The muted TVs play ESPN while '70s rock is on in the background. Shultzy's feels like it could have been the setting of a deleted scene near the beginning of 21 & Over, right before its shell of a plot kicks in.
It's Jeff Chang's (Justin Chon, from those Twilight movies) 21st birthday. Two of his high school bros, uptight law student Casey (Skylar Astin) and fun-loving slacker Miller (Miles Teller), surprise him with a plan to take him on a "21 run."
Chang has a big med school interview the next day arranged by his strict, intimidating father, Dr. Chang (Francois Chau). But the friends go out anyway, and what was supposed to be a quick stop at a bar turns into a night of fights, beer pong, and sorority raiding in scenes that play out like Weekend at Bernie's meets The Hangover. Sound familiar?
It is, and while you might expect that from a raunchy college comedy, the least Over could do is provide some laughs. The script goes for some really low-hanging fruit, like discussion of Chang's possible "honor killing" should Dr. Chang discover the shenanigans, or jokes about Jewish lawyers. Lowbrow humor isn't always so bad, but 21 & Over's writing feels like it was cobbled together by a bunch of obnoxious frat boys at the last possible minute.
A particularly terrible scene involves Casey and Miller--who are the real main characters, despite Chon billed as the lead role--walking in on a sorority initiation. It's played off with a "boys will be boys" flippancy--spanking blindfolded pledges without their consent--but it comes off creepy. The few chuckles that remain are delivered by the underused Chon, who shows a knack for physical comedy with a teddy bear strapped to his crotch for a good portion of the flick.
Sadly, there isn't enough of him--or his teddy bear--to drown out the rest of the cast, but despite how unpleasant it is, there is some satisfaction seeing the UW on the big screen: Casey and Miller driving a golf cart through The Quad, The Allen Library overpass, Dante's Bar. These familiar UW locales are the only reason anyone should see this movie. If these nuances are lost on you, avoid it all together.
But Shultzy's knows exactly what it wants to provide, and makes great use of restraint. I had "The Shultzy" which comes with their famous shoestring fries and costs around 10 dollars. The sandwich, a spiced German-style sausage topped with grilled onions and green peppers, was a delight. The brat itself was flavorful without being too overpowering, giving the grilled veggies and doughy bun a chance to shine as well. I prefer steak fries myself, but Shultzy's lightly seasoned shoestring fries had a great, contrasting crunch next to the sandwich.
I went with a friend and tried his sweet potato fries which are worth ordering, too. My drink was a pint of their Kostritzer Black Lager. Despite not being much of a drinker, I enjoyed its smooth, smoky flavor. For a total of about $15, Shultzy's provided me with a robust and filling experience, much more than I can say for the movie.