at least by personal experience, are harrowing episodes
of nausea, agony and, if you’re lucky, the shakes.
I’ve known hangovers to stay with me for days and
make me swear to never again abuse the substances that made
me that way.
if there’s been long enough time between my last bad
hangover and, say, an upcoming birthday party, I usually
forget what a complete workover they do on my system. Kind
of like a Todd Phillips movie.
that’s not fair, because I like good Todd Phillips
movies, mostly (ie: Road Trip and his defining
Old School), but sometimes, like getting well vodka
on a bad bender, you get an off Todd Phillips film (School
for Scoundrels, Starsky and Hutch) and you just can’t
does Phillips new film, The Hangover fare? Well,
if you’re calling Old School some top shelf
Tequilla, The Hangover might find itself somewhere
on the back counter.
not to say that it isn’t good, or isn’t funny,
because it’s both of those. However, where The
Hangover is at its weakest isn’t the fault of
Todd Phillips. Its biggest problem is the script. Written
by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (Ghost of Girlfriends Past
and Four Christmases) The Hangover
is an attempt at a good Todd Phillips movie but ends up
just being a typical “What Happens in Vegas”
tries to save it, and this is where I’ll fault him,
by trying to turn The Hangover into another Old
School. Whereas Old School started with a
wedding, this film centers 'round the impending nuptials
of Doug and Tracy (Justin Bartha and Sasha Barrese) and
a lot of the wedding footage felt like it came right out
of the b-roll from Old School, including the band.
Doug to Vegas for his bachelor party are his two best pals,
Phil ( Wedding Crashers' Bradley Cooper) and Stu
(Ed Helms) and his soon to be brother in law Alan (Zach
again, just as Old School centered around a straight
man (Luke Wilson), a con man (Vince Vaughn) and a wild man
(Will Ferrell), The Hangover centers around a douchebag
(Cooper), a convicted sex offender (Galifianakis) and a
wuss (Helms) who’ve lost the groom-to-be in one of
the wildest nights of bachelor partying history. The only
problem is, they can’t remember anything from that
night and are only left with clues and a mystery to solve
before the wedding the next day.
like a fun enough premise and with the right cast and a
better script, it might have actually worked. Yet it falls
apart in its basic story telling. Lucas and Moore create
scenarios where our protagonists are constantly in peril
and the impending deadline is looming. That would work if
the deadline were more ominous than the peril.
movie, our heroes are faced with gang violence, abandoned
babies, kidnapping and a tiger attack. If only they can
survive those things to make it back to some chi-chi wedding
in LA? I don’t care if Uncle Saul and Aunt Bessie
flew in from Poughkeepsie, I’m calling the F.B.I.
was probably my biggest problem with The Hangover.
The deadline held little worth compared to the rest of the
film. It’s a wedding, big deal, fifty percent of them
don’t last anyways.
not like retrieving the missing video tape of you cheating
on your girl that you just mailed to her (Road Trip)
or saving the Fraternity and its pledges who just got kicked
out of college and may have the rest of their lives ruined
(Old School). It’s a freaking wedding, not
the end of the world. (Ladies, send your complaints
and we'll read them on the next podcast.)
other problem with The Hangover is the cast dynamic.
Cooper is being toted as the next big thing and whoever
his agent is, I applaud him. Unfortunately Bradley can’t
play anything other than a dick. In the right story that
might work, but in a film that you really need some sympathy
for some characters in a bad situation, Cooper’s Phil
is anything but likable, even after they try to have you
believe he’s a family man with a wife and kid at home.
You never ever really feel like his character likes any
of the other guys he’s partying with and in turn,
never really care if he succeeds or not.
Stu character is typical, taking a berating from his two
timing girlfriend early on in the film. We’re to believe
the guy is a pushover in his life, but he’s a confident
dentist and he holds his own with his guy friends and seems
smarter than he’s actually acting, of course foreshadowing
a moral victory to come at the end of the film. Helms is
likable in this movie, and his character is meant to be
the straight man, but this film is not sure how to make
the dynamic work, so Helms then becomes the neurotic one.
only thing I can say about Galifianakis is creepy. I’m
sure that’s what they’re going for and for anyone
that’s followed Galifianakis’ comedy, that’s
what he does. But to actually make him a pedophile who drugs
people… well, I’m not sure if that’s funny
light of him going to a Jonas Brothers' concert and having
him not allowed within 100 feet of an elementary school
doesn’t say Old School to me… it says
Little Children. With that being said, Galifianakis
is still good in the role, and provides a lot of the strange
comedy in this film. Meant to be the buffoon, Zach is no
Will Ferrell, but he tries his best.
The other part of the film that’s
disappointing is the lack of any actual real side effects
of a real hangover. There’s a great scene where Helms
wakes up and the whole room is moving with him that really
captures the feel of what a hangover is. Helms gives a small
and obligatory vomit a few minutes later, but then everybody
is pretty much in good shape to go on an adventure. Where’s
the excessive water drinking, the shakes, the resistance
to any kind of greasy food? Give me a little dose of that.
than that, The Hangover drags. Once the bits are
set up there’s potential for comedy, but in between
then, the main leads of the film aren’t especially
likable and you find yourself waiting for them to just do
something, anything funny, unlike Old School where
you could just watch Vince Vaughn or Will Ferrell and be
smiling on your way to a full out laugh.
have some nice surprises and a couple of good cameos, including
an appearance from personal fave Ken Jeong (Knocked
Up, Role Models), and overall, I didn’t hate
it, but it’s sad when the absolutely funniest part
of the movie is the last thirty seconds as the credits roll.
Hangover is a satisfactory movie with a lot of laughs
strewn throughout, but it just doesn’t ever fire on
all cylinders at all during its runtime. I could end this
review with a lousy what happens in Vegas punch line, but
that would only be playing in to what the movie was going
for. Fortunately, I’ve had funnier real life hangovers
than this film and think I’d rather just go get drunk.