Nov 29, 2009

The Hangover (2009): C

The Hangover is a cheat, and not just because it's the latest, altogether lousy production to take the box office by unprecedented storm (already enough to reserve its status as one of the great overrated comedies of our era, and rest assured, this thing will only become more ungainly on DVD). Even viewed apart from its sterling reception, its disappointment stems from an inability to ever fully take off, like a airplane bolted to the runway. An amusing set-up - in which three friends (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis) find themselves in the Nevada desert the morning after a bachelor party gone awry with the soon-to-be-married guest of honor nowhere to be found - ultimately goes all sorts of nowhere, the screenplay an overly and obviously scattershot attempt to cover as many broad humor bases as possible and one whose attempts at randomness instead bear the comparable spontaneity of a deliberately dropped anvil. With it, Todd Phillips cements his status as perhaps the most lethargically unironic comedy filmmaker working today (only the cheeky, self-reflexive Road Trip seems worth watching outside the walls of an alcohol-flooded frat house). Despite a few instances of legitimate comedic shock value (the end credits photo montage is an easy high water mark, albeit one that comes far too little too late), The Hangover stinks of committee production values; that the preview for the film is infinitely better than the final work says as much. Worse than its paint-by-numbers execution, however, is its total lack of empathy. Exclusively defining its characters via their non-femininity and non-homosexuality, the lack of scrutiny or definition given to their behavior slowly drowns the proceedings in a sludge of astonishingly obnoxious self-righteousness. You might call these guys flamingly straight, but you'd be just as well off saying they're unrepentant dicks. In a world with Superbad and I Love You, Man, The Hangover's witless regression is unforgivable.


  1. Anonymous10:46 PM

    Were you sleepy drunk when you saw it? I and everyone else who saw it couldn't contain their belly-ache from laughing. Granted it's not cinematic art, but it is entertainment at its best.

  2. I think you've made the mistake of taking the movie a bit too seriously. It's not Citizen Kane, it's supposed to be a light-hearted throwaway comedy.

    Your delicate sensibilities regarding femininity, homosexuality and especially behavioural motivation (lol) are hilariously out of place. It's about a bunch of guys celebrating their friend's last moments of 'freedom' before the onset of adulthood and marriage. There's your motivation. And why FGS should a buddy-movie EVER attempt to scrutinise ANYTHING.

    A rather grandiloquent review of an entertaining piece of hokum.

  3. Dressy1:39 AM

    Well, it may be not Citizen Cane, but for a comedy.. hhmmm it is simply not funny! The whole main joke in about "how we got drunk and did stupid things" may be only funny for a teen-ager having his first experiences with alcohol. I really like silly and funny comedies this one is not funny, just silly. Lol.

  4. Anonymous8:41 AM

    "defining ... characters via their non-femininity and non-homosexuality"?


    The main characters were all heterosexual males, but they weren't defined by that. If they were "defined" by anything, it was their individual roles within the movie: the drug-addicted moron, the dentist in an unhappy relationship, the jerk, and the soon-to-be groom.

    If you didn't find the movie funny, then fine. But posting a negative review because the characters aren't "gay enough" is like criticizing Schindler's List because its characters in that movie aren't French enough. It makes no sense at all.

    Sorry, but your review fails epically.

  5. @Anonymous 8:41: This movie surely defines its characters by their contrasting archetypes, but they are primarily STRAIGHT and MANLY, in the most homophobic and juvenile of ways. If you want to judge the movie as a product aimed at pigheaded frat boys, that's fine, but it's too rank and uninspired to work as comedic entertainment for me. Your comparison fails.

  6. Anonymous12:00 AM

    John - Nothing about this review makes it sound like the reviewer is taking the movie too seriously. They basically just said that the movie isn't funny.

    And just because a movie is meant to be a comedy doesn't make it above criticism. If he thought the movie was stupid, then he thought it was stupid.

    Lastly, yeah, characters should have motivations. Even in stupid frat-boy comedies. Having characters do things that don't make any sense is just bad writing.