With its title being The Hangover and credits inclusive of movies like Road Trip and Old School, there’s both a lot as well as little to expect from seeing the film. While the film promises and delivers in the way of laughs, it’s not a particularly intelligent comedy. That should not be a reason to hold anything against the film, but I feel like I have to put that out there first and foremost.
The movie is interesting because it somewhat combines Road Trip and Old School into one film. The former because of the trip the individuals take to Las Vegas and the sheer audacity of some of its moments, and the latter because of the ages of the characters and actual roles they play. Easily, Bradley Cooper’s Phil is an analogue of Vince Vaughn’s Bernard. Similarly, Ed Helms’ Stu plays Luke Wilson’s Mitch while Zach Galifianakis’ Alan plays Will Ferrell’s Frank “The Tank”. After that, the film is pretty elementary. It almost makes one wonder why this was not a direct sequel to Old School – save for the fact that it is simply cheaper to hire the current talent than it would be to hire the previous stars.
The plot is simple: Three friends take a guy out to Vegas for his bachelor party, they get wasted/drugged, and zany adventures occur as they bounce from location to location trying to figure out what happened the previous night and where they lost their friend. Of course, with such a big deal made about the roof of Caesar’s Palace (which isn’t the real one because Caesar does not live there), there is only a simple logic that viewers need to follow in the end. Regardless, the premise allows for literally anything to happen in the middle – and I would not be surprised that the manatee method of joke writing was used to fill the space.
The Mike Tyson bit was funny, but was there any real reason for them to steal his tiger and then go through crap to return it? How about the cop car/arrest/taser storyline? While we knew that Alan’s foreshadowed triumph would occur, did we need the homage paid to casino hacking movies? Really, the only thing that needed to be there was Stu’s marriage to an escort, since that helped him to grow as a character and realize that his girlfriend was a bitch. Of course, anyone who has ever watched the various VH1 television shows already knows that Rachael Harris is a bitch. (Just so I don’t sound like a total hater, I’m a fan of the mousey, nerdy look and find her quite appealing on that level. I just wouldn’t want to hold a long conversation with her.)
I’m criticizing this movie so much because I enjoyed it but don’t quite understand why. The usual frat pack movies appeal to me initially but don’t often hold up to repeat viewings. I loved Old School in the theatre, but subsequent cable viewings didn’t work. Wedding Crashers is kind of the same. I find stupid, situational humor incredibly funny – but I don’t get the appeal in memorizing it and owning the DVD.
This is where I admit to having found The Big Lebowski mostly humorous for the sake of John Goodman but otherwise insipid.
The lack of minorities positively portrayed in the film also is a problem of mine. I’ll admit that no one in the movie is portrayed in a positive light. Still, the main leads are all white and shown to be doing pretty well, all things considered. Then we have Mike Tyson, African American, whose security is so poor that four white guys could break in, pee in a fountain, and steal his tiger. We have an African American drug dealer who can’t tell the difference between rufies and ecstasy. We have a female African American cop who, while paired up with a white male officer, was dumb enough to let four guys steal her police cruiser. We have the overly violent ambiguously Asian gangsters whose boss was overly effeminate. This was a very…white movie. Why couldn’t Stu or Phil be black?
Final verdict on The Hangover? Overall funny but with a questionable lasting value. I’m sure people from my generation will eat it up and buy the unrated extended edition in September, but I think it’s better off watched sparingly on cable.
Bechdel Rule: Failure. Women didn’t talk when they shared a scene together. Then again, there were too few women in the film. The only one who got any real screen time as well as positive characterization was Heather Graham, who was a stripper and escort noted for the size of her breasts and was then shown breast feeding. Classy.