Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Hangover

Not too long ago, I woke up on a random morning with my head pounding, my throat parched, and my stomach aching. I swore that I’d never drink again.

There’s nothing worse than a hangover. But I still drink, and I just discovered that the hangover is not always so bad.

Todd Phillips (director of Old School and Road Trip) brings us a hangover that we can actually enjoy. The Hangover follows 4 men (you can’t tell from the commercials/posters, but there are 4 guys) celebrating a bachelor party in Las Vegas. The opening scenes are fast paced, music filled, and quickly introduce the quirky characters.

There’s Bradley Cooper, the scumbag, who steals money from his high school students; Zach Galifianakis, the weird dude, who utters random comments, and shows off his can in his first scene; Ed Helms (Andy Bernard from The Office), the whipped guy, who is on the verge of rebelling against his bitchy girlfriend. And finally Justin Bartha, the groom, whose main role in the story is to get these eclectic characters to Vegas.

The storytelling twist is that we don’t follow these characters into the night. Instead, we wake up with them and their hangover the next morning. And we must follow the men as they utter the eternal phrase: “What happened last night?”

The Hangover follows a similar plot to “Dude, Where’s My Car?” But instead of stoners, it’s a bunch of drunkards. And instead of a car, the guys lose their main man: “Dude, Where’s The Groom?” We follow these dudes through a series of bizarre encounters which include: a run in with Mike Tyson, finding a baby in the closet, counting cards, and a demonstration with stun guns.

The adventures are absurd, silly, and for the most part, pretty funny. The Hangover does lose some pace throughout as there are less music cues and longer scenes. But the plot is tight enough that we want to figure out what exactly happened the night before. The film saves the big reveal during the credits which was easily the funniest part of the movie.

The Hangover has an Old School goes to Vegas feel, but it’s not an instant classic. I found myself smiling a lot more than laughing. I liked the characters and the story, but there were only a few moments that were hysterical and made me laugh out loud uncontrollably. Overall, it’s a fun ride, and it made me yearn for a Vegas trip with my buddies.

The Hangover is one part vulgar, one part silly, and two parts absurd. It makes for a fun escape, and by the end, you’ll look at a hangover in an entirely different way.


Tyson makes a cameo playing himself. He holds his own, but his best moment is given away in the previews when he sings Phil Collins and knocks out Zack Galifianakis with a devastating punch.

Heather Graham’s breast makes an appearance. It's not as exciting as Boogie Nights, but it's still pretty cool. Word around Hollywood is that her boob may be nominated for a Golden Globe (pun intended.)

Todd Phillips has a brief cameo just as he did in Road Trip and Old School. And once again, it’s a sexual innuendo. In Road Trip he sucks on Amy Smart’s toes. In Old School, he’s there for the “gang bang.” And in The Hangover, Phillips is “going down” the elevator with a sexy blonde. If I directed movies, I’d probably do the same thing. Good for him!

The same wedding band from Old School (The Dan Band) makes an appearance near the end of the film. The band is well known for its covers of female pop songs, with added obscenities and swearing.

Zach Galifianakis refers to Three Men and a Baby as the movie with Ted Danson, Magnum P.I, and that Jewish actor.

Zach Galifianakis pulls off his best Rain Man imitation as he rides down the escalator and counts cards. (I was disappointed that they didn’t use the same music, and no direct quotes were used like: “One for bad. Two for good.”)

The psychologist in me thinks Todd Phillips may be cynical when it comes to relationships. In his 3 most popular films, there is at least one character who must break out of a relationship. Road Trip shows that long distance relationships don’t work. In Old School, Luke Wilson gets cheated on, and Will Ferrell is married and divorced within a month. And finally in The Hangover, Ed Helms endures a bitter long term relationship that he is aching to escape from.

The Simpsons aired a similar plot to The Hangover back in January, 1999 entitled “Viva Ned Flanders.” Homer and Ned have a wild night in Vegas. They wake up in their hotel room and can’t remember a thing. They are surrounded by a strange mix of goods from the night before including a watermelon, a sundial, an oil drum, and the Stanley Cup. Then they learn that they were married the night before.

How I Met Your Mother aired the episode “Bachelor Party” in April 2007. Four guys head to Atlantic City for Marshall’s (Jason Segel) bachelor party. One of the characters vanishes at the beginning and is not seen until the very end much like the groom in The Hangover.

According to imdb.com, Todd Phillips has 11 projects in development including a sequel to The Hangover. Old School 2 (Old School Dos) is currently in production.

Meeting Todd Phillips

I met Todd Philips back in 2002. I was living in LA, and heard through the grapevine (Central Casting) that there was a general casting call for an upcoming comedy. They were looking for goofy fraternity guys. For those that don’t know me, that pretty much sums me up. I threw on a Hawaiian shirt, jacked up my pants, tossed on my AEPi fraternity hat, and within seconds, I was a goofy fraternity guy.

It was my first and only audition for a movie. I stood nervously in line at USC with hundreds of other goofy, strange, and odd characters. I tried to converse with my fellow goofballs, but it was difficult meeting other sane individuals. There were a set of attention starved twins, a guy with vampire teeth, and one guy without eyebrows. I didn’t know what was next, but I hoped the line would move faster.

They called us into a classroom about 25 at a time. We all stood before Todd Phillips as he took notes and observed our goofiness. After a brief moment, he thanked us for our time, and sent us on our way.

On the way out, I introduced myself to the director. I felt like if he got to know me for at least a few minutes, he’d realize that I’m the goofy fraternity guy he was looking for. Mr. Phillips shook my hand, and genuinely spoke to me for a few moments. He was really friendly, but unfortunately, there were no sparks. And it was pretty clear I was not getting chosen for the part.

As I exited, I coped with rejection maturely. I rationalized that the movie would be stupid, and I wouldn’t want to be associated with it anyways.

One year later, Old School premiered and became an instant classic. Despite the rejection, I still loved the movie, and finally realized why Todd Phillips had not chosen me.

I was way too good looking to be one of those goofy fraternity guys.

Thanks, Todd.


chicamom85 said...

I am on the fence about seeing The Hangover, afraid it will be just too stupid, but I think you may have convinced me to give it a try.

Thanks Anne

EddieSki said...

I agree with your opinion. I didn't think it was as great as my buddies thought but it was still hilarious. Old School and Superbad were better.

Tanner said...

I really liked The Hangover. It's definitely my favorite Todd Phillips movie. I'm pretty surprised you didn't love it! I was pretty much laughing constantly throughout. I did have a few problems, but far fewer than I had with the second half of Old School.

vince akuin said...

HAHA i remember that episode of HIMYM and that line about one guy disappearing! That's totally the Hangover. Nice catch! HIMYM rules and the Hangover was pretty good also.

Dan said...

this is the most intense, accurate, and poignant review i've read in a while!

Anonymous said...

Didn't laugh out loud once. Not very many laughs from the theatre crowd either. It was so predictible as your review explains.

Anonymous said...

nice story. todd is probably a cool guy in real life, don't it to heart that you weren't chosen. its just business, nothing personal.

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