Doug (Justin Bartha) is getting married in two days, so his buddies Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stu (Ed Helms) take him to Las Vegas for his bachelor party, with Doug’s soon-to-be brother-in-law Alan (Zach Galifianakis) tagging along too. They have a wild time on Friday night, but come Saturday morning Phil, Stu and Alan wake up to a trashed hotel suite, a baby in a closet, a tiger in the bathroom and Doug nowhere to be seen. They’ve got just 24 hours to sort everything out and get Doug back in time for his own wedding.
My memory is often terrible, especially when it comes to films I haven’t seen in a while and didn’t much care for. There are some films I’ve already covered from the 1001 List that I can’t recall a great deal of. However, as we sat down last night to watch The Hangover, I found myself being able to clearly remember literally everything that happened in it. And as the film panned out, nothing came as a surprise. I think I could have written down every story beat and most of the attempts at humour straight away. Bear in mind I think the only other time I’ve seen this film was on the back of an airplane seat six years ago, and I didn’t enjoy it all that much first time around, and have not given it a great deal of time since. So, of all those things it’d be really useful to remember, I’m stuck with the plot of The Hangover in my head.
I think The Hangover might work on a first viewing, but there’s no value to repeated watching. This isn’t the kind of comedy where there are endless details to pick up on or missed lines of dialogue, it’s just a standard, fairly broad comedy, which is why I’m extremely confused as to its inclusion on the 1001 List. I understand that it was a very successful film upon its release, successful enough to earn two sequels, of which the first was so terrible I never saw the second, but if financial gain is enough to garner a spot on the List then I’m sure later this year we’ll see the likes of Jurassic World and The Force Awakens on the List. No? Well then why is this here then?
The comedy here isn’t really within my vein. A lot of it comes from Zach Galifianakis being overweight and oddly dressed. There’s something about him wearing a jock strap that I just don’t find all that amusing. In fact, late in the film the character of Chow (Ken Jeong, otherwise known as the most unbearable part of any film or TV show Ken Jeong appears in) openly points and laughs at Galifianakis’ Alan remarking “Funny fat guy fall on face.” Here the comedy seems to be not just Alan falling over, but Chow finding it amusing that Alan fell over because he is fat and bumbling. As far as I’m concerned the comedy comes from neither. The few moments that did make me chuckle either came from Ed Helms’ incredulous, increasingly distraught responses to the situations at hand, or from supporting cast members like Matt Walsh “It’s on the corner of Get a Map and Fuck Off,” and the criminally underused Jeffrey Tambor as Doug’s intended father-in-law. Oh, and Helms’ piano-accompanied rendition of “What do tigers dream of?” is my favourite part of the film, no contest.
The characters don’t really have a great deal to offer. Doug is easily the blandest, but then again he’s not on screen all that much and just basically needs to be the nice-guy-glue to hold these other three together. Phil is a married school teacher and father of one who relishes the idea of a weekend away having fun. He seems relatively unconcerned and level headed about the situation, and is also the most able to have fun with it, whereas Stu is uptight and prone to panicking. He is also at the mercy of his domineering, possessive girlfriend, to whom Stu has lied about Vegas and told her they’ve gone wine-tasting in Napa. My partner tells me I’m a lot like him, and others have said the same (apparently I look a little like him in this film too) which I don’t see as a great thing. Alan again poses the biggest problem for me. He is described by his own father as having “Something wrong with him,” and this something allows for some rather odd behaviour. Alan cackles with glee when he purposefully almost gets them all in a massive, potentially life-threatening car crash. He has no knowledge of social cues or how to behave in the world in general, and again this is often supposed to be funny, but oh-so-rarely is.
Whilst I appreciate the set-up and story-telling of having the guys re-tracing their steps from the night before and never actually showing us the events taking place, but there’s not enough humour that lands to make this an enjoyable comedy, and too many actors/wannabe-comedians that I don’t appreciate for my liking.
Choose Life 5/10