Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Hangover

I'm not one to normally go to comedies in theaters. I haven't regularly gone for years - mostly because they're never really that funny. Over the last 7 months I've been surprised twice. I went to see "Role Models" with my brother and his girlfriend when I we were driving across the country and this past Friday I saw "The Hangover."

Everything that I saw about The Hangover before I saw the film screamed "awful." While the comedy is pretty standard in regards to its peers of today, the character dynamic is really what set it apart from the wolf pack. It's a wolf that's part of its own pack. The character interaction is clever, and the plot is so over the top that there's no need to retain any semblance of believability like with "real" comedies that betray all logical sensibilities (such as the absurdities that happen in the American Pie sequels) of plotting and interpersonal situations.

The basic, and only, premise of the film is, "We were so screwed up last night we have no idea what we did," which results in, "where's our buddy, Doug?!?!" I'd have to say the weakest part of the film is everything that happens before that point - where far too much screen time is used setting up the eventual revelation when they wake up the next morning.

The film opens with a peak into their unfortunate situation, where they have called the bride to be that they have "lost" her future husband. Cutting immediately to two days before this scene, they then introduce the characters. They arrive in Las Vegas, and toast the bachelor. Immediately cue the next morning - where they (and the audience) have no idea what they did the night before. The film slowly unfolds, with the characters slowly piecing together the mystery. Anton Chekhov would be proud of the "gun" used in the film, if you even know what that references is - give yourself a pat on the back.

The weakest part of the film is probably the dialog. It's simplistic in many spots, and removes all subtlety from many situations. Some lines feel like they were shoehorned in because someone might not "understand" who someone is or what someone does "I do weddings!" - of course you do, you work in a wedding chapel. Well that and the "MONSTER" energy drink product placement, which took up the entire right half of the screen for a good 15 to 30 seconds.

I'm sure a whole lot of cultural references went over the heads of the core audience - the Three Men and a Baby line - "Its got Ted Danson, Magnum P.I., and that Jewish guy" and the multiple references to Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. This made it clear that the writers weren't complete flake. You can sometimes get by with a few "obscure" references - but they're hardly ever clever.

While Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms certainly added to the film's enjoyability - the film was made with the inclusion of Zach Galifianakis. Stay seated when the credits start - that part was the icing on the cake and probably what really sealed the deal when I thought about the film when walking out to the car. Perhaps it was my low expectations going into the film, but I enjoyed it quite a bit more than I had expected to.

*** 1/2 out of *****


Ben said...

Plus, it was shot in 2.35 and was rather visually interesting.

However, Mike Tyson's cameo was terribly forced.

I agree: 3.5/5

Chris said...

Yeah, it was. However, I'm thinking that if they hadn't blown the cameo in the commercials - it wouldn't have felt so bad.