The Hangover (Rated R)
Abraham Lincoln once said, “It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.” And if that’s true, the characters in The Hangover have a lot of virtues.
The film has received a major advertising push in the past month or so and, as a result, actually beat Disney/Pixar’s Up in its second weekend in box office earnings. Since its been pushed as being from the same director as another R rated comedy, Old School, you can bet that teens who are a fan of that movie, as well as others like it, are going to turn out to see it.
The story starts out as a typical Las Vegas movie. Four guys get together to celebrate the marriage of one with, what else, a bachelor party in Sin City. They start their night on the roof of Caesar’s Palace with drinks, but that’s where things divert from the typical Vegas movie formula. The next scene finds them waking up the next morning in their room, which is completely trashed, with absolutely no memory of the night’s events. Doug (Justin Bartha) the Groom, is missing. Phil (Bradley Cooper), finds out he was in the hospital. Stu (Ed Helms), is missing a tooth. And finally, Alan (Zach Galafianakis), is finds a tiger in the bathroom and a baby in the closet. From there, the movie kind of plays out like a comedic version of Memento, with the guys trying their best to not only find their lost friend, but discover what exactly happened to them the night before.
While the eighties were saturated with R rated comedies, in light of a shift in whom the studios say is going to the movies (a change from adults to tweens and teens) and the economic recession, we’ve seen less and less R rated comedies released. Movie studios have leaned closer to “family friendly” movies and PG-13 action blockbusters or comedies to increase sales by allowing a greater variety of age groups access to purchase tickets. Over the past nine or so years, there has been an increase in the release of R rated comedies as a kind of “testing of the water” to see if they can be a viable profit for studios. And with the success of such movies as Wedding Crashers, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and now The Hangover, it seems like we’ll be seeing more and more of these films released.
So what’s so attractive about this movie? First, it’s got two people that comedy fans love: Ed Helms (The Daily Show and The Office) and Zach Galafianakis (Out Cold and The Comedians of Comedy) are hot comic properties right now. (Helms is a little more well known from his role on The Office.) It’s also got Bradley Cooper, who’s on a hot streak right now coming off of a few of high profile supporting roles (Wedding Crashers and He’s Just Not That Into You). And it’s got Vegas, which always adds a shine to any movie. So you’ve got the bachelor party concept for guys, a good-looking leading man (Cooper) for the ladies, and Vegas and comedy for all. No wonder this movie hit big.
But here’s the thing, while there are a ton of laughs in The Hangover, a lot of them are a result of things that make it impossible for me to recommend to anyone. First, there’s the glorification of the idea that a bachelor party is not only a necessary rite of passage, but also a justification to abandon one’s moral compass. Then there’s the saturating use of profanity (91 uses of the F word alone). Next on the list is two scenes involving male frontal nudity. I could go on, but you get the idea.
Is The Hangover funny? Yes. But do we have to lower our standards to laugh? Absolutely not. Use your hard earned Hamilton to see Up again.
Josh Treece couldn’t help but sing Katy Perry’s song, Waking Up In Vegas, while writing this review. Now it’s stuck in his head and won’t get out. When he’s not humming along with that tune, he’s ministering to teenagers.