' Cinema Romantico: The Hangover

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Hangover

The setup really is pretty genius, you know? Four guys go to Vegas for a bachelor party, head up to the roof of the hotel, indulge in some shots and some toasts, and then wake up the next morning in their destroyed hotel room having forgotten every single thing that occured the previous evening. This allows for aboout a dozen little events to take place as they awake, stunning them in succession, none of which I will reveal on the off chance you haven't seen the preview. Well, except for one - the groom to be, Doug (Justin Bartha), is missing. Uh oh. Add in the age-old time element, as in Doug has to get back to L.A. in 48 hours for his wedding, and it's on.

It's genius because, well, we've all been there. Most of us have been there, I should say. You know, waking up with a pounding headache, a tackle box for your pillow, perhaps a little drool on said tackle box, and thinking, "Wait, why am I sleeping on a tackle box?" (Not that this has happened to me, of course.) Then you and your friends, over coffee and aspirin, try to piece together the previous events that led to this unfortunate sleeping position.

"The Hangover", as directed by Todd Phillips (of "Old School" fame) is essentially "After Hours" for the frat boy crowd. Now such a snobbish comment is not meant to suggest I never laughed at this movie because I did. Quite frequently. But it's true. Can't argue with facts, man. Subsitute vulgarity for surrealism and there you go.

The trio that accompanies Doug is as follows: Phil (Bradley Cooper, who, as the young woman exiting the theater directly behind me so gracefully stated, "came out of f---ing nowhere with his hotness" - though I would argue, graceful girl, that he came out of f---ing nowhere with his propensity for playing not-so-nice people - seriously, one day he's the kind-hearted neglected secondary love interest of Jennifer Garner's Sydney Bristow on "Alias" and the next he's Hollywood's go-to a--hole), the requisite ex-frat boy, uh, sorry, I have no other word, a--hole, and Stu (Ed Helms), a dentist who is lorded over by his manipulative, spiteful girlfriend, and Alan (Zach Galifianakis), the man child, who also carries a man purse.

Familiar types, you say? Well, yeah. They're all funny, I suppose, but then the movie forces them to reach some sort of ultimate truth about their existence over the course of their detective work in putting together this, shall we say, jigsaw puzzle of debauchery. Should I bringing such nonsense into a review of this sorta movie? Hey, the movie brings it in so I have no choice.

Stu's storyline re-teaches the most eternal of frat boy truths - that is, a stripper you married unwittingly in Vegas always knows more about life than your controlling shrew back at the ranch. Phil meanwhile has about a four second re-birth at the very end which I distinctly felt like would last for about 12 hours and then go by the wayside.

Galifianakis, on the other hand, is something of a revelation. He has well over two dozen droll moments that make this movie more than worth the price of admission - his pronounciation of a particular word, his frightening admittance at a particular place, his oddball questions, his gradual gravitation toward Phil, his confession to his buddies that comes off as truly remorseful. He actually seems to learn the least of anyone and, really, isn't that the ultimate truth about a hangover? You swear never to do something again and then, a week later, you do it again?

The set ups in "The Hangover" are actually the best part. The payoffs tend to be a bit more weak. Here's where I think Judd Apatow and his disciples are more skilled than the Todd Phillips of the world - supporting characters. Apatow's supporting characters are far superior to those of "The Hangover". All the fringe players in "The Hangover" are nothing more than vulgar. That's it. That's all they've got. Maybe some people will disagree. I don't care. They either swear every other word or turn up nude. It wears thin, man, it really does. Mr. Chow? The mob boss after our hapless trio? I was done with his guy and his "wackiness" after two seconds.

Think about Craig Robinson and Kristin Wiig in "Knocked Up" and Leslie Mann and Jane Lynch in "The Forty Year Old Virgin" and the bartender in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall". Yeah, the bartender in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" swore but he also loved muppets. It's called a TRAIT.

I just re-read what I wrote and realized this review is very odd. It sounds like I hated the movie, doesn't it? I didn't. But I also resolutely support every word I just re-read. What do I do? I'm confused. Wait....the esteemed New York Times recently noted that movie studios are turning to blogs and their ad-friendly quotes to help them lure moviegoers. Maybe if I just...

Someone spiked the jungle juice in "The Hangover" with comedy genius!!!

Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis make it rain with laughs!!!

You won't want a homespun remedy to cure you of this "Hangover"!!!

"The Hangover" is better than "Animal House"!!!

1 comment:

Rory Larry said...

Regarding your last, quotabale quote. A hangover (any one, just pick) is better than animal house.