If you’re looking for a movie about healthy relationships, then The Hangover really isn’t for you. It’s one of those movies that’s all about the crude jokes which challenge the boundaries of what’s socially acceptable to make fun of, even though it really does go off the rails many times. In director Todd Phillips’ (Joker) effort to directly mock America’s romantic culture of the late 2000s, he also deliberately uplifts the sin of the people in that culture, making it look like it’s okay for men to disrespect their significant others as long as it means they can get away with trouble in their sad little lives. No matter how funny the jokes may be, there comes a time when even you have to wonder, “What would my wife/husband think if s/he saw me laughing at this?”
One of the more significant problems starts with one of the three co-leads, Stu. He himself isn’t the problem, as he’s plenty relatable in the way he gets all sweaty during times of high stress, the problem is with his girlfriend. She’s not so much a character as she is just there to nag like a true sexist stereotype. Speaking of the underused female characters, the bride needed to be there more and have more interaction with the other men, you’ll remember her less than the baby found by the three men. This baby gets named “Carlos” and is made to do a masturbating hand gesture, which for most will just come off as a stupid attempt at humor only the immature would laugh at. Along with these mostly absent women is a racist stereotype—an Asian hitman first seen naked in a trunk with a crowbar, one who also is barely a character even.
As insulting as this movie gets, the adventure’s in the mystery of what on earth happened in their Vegas outing. The more they find the more insane it gets; one even gets married! Even if you never feel sad for anybody, you will certainly feel everything else for them! As much as there’s no real sense of heart between the romance, there’s strong emotions kicked up in a scene with a kids’ field trip at the police station. Those emotions eventually peak with a car showdown in the desert staged well enough to sustain the attention of a typical thirty-something man. There are other things like that too, such as the use of a man-purse, or satchel, to keep you laughing pretty hard.
That doesn’t go for everyone though, as some may just see this comedy as a dated product of its time, particularly in its soundtrack and cheap storytelling tricks. In one instance, a time lapse shows Las Vegas progressing from night to morning, in another, the cops are portrayed as being total sadists, which would not get along well in our post #BlackLivesMatter era. Todd Phillips did not pay any attention to what he was doing in portraying these men and women of the law, his very inconsistent use of cropping actors does not do them justice. Phillips makes attempts to tribute other films that I am sure were strong modes of inspiration for this, such as including what looks like the casino escalator shot from Rain Man. But really, these little tributes do not pay off, and make this product look even less original. There’s some unique content though, such as funny underwear with butt cheek support, but those unique doses don’t come around too frequently.
When at its funniest, this misadventure of mishaps makes you beg for answers you already know you don’t want the answer to, starting with the strange sight of a bubble bath filled with sex dolls. Once this first sight of the party’s aftermath leaves you strangely unsettled, then you start laughing really hard at the placement of a tiger merely sitting there as a human urinates unknowing. There’s even a chicken and bowling alley among the excessive amount of questions! It’s like a murder mystery party—except it’s real! Then the laughs keep going as the uncertainty persists, a cop car drives (slowly) on the sidewalk, and three men get tangled in handcuffs. Plus, there’s the simple irony of the fact that a dentist of all people lost a tooth in this night on the town. It’s all little moments, rather than the big picture, that take the cake for your belly laughs.
Don’t let that distract you though from the fact that two out of three of these main characters go through no character development, being the same in the end as in the beginning. The overweight one in particular is not there for any reason besides being called “Fat Jesus.” He’s merely the punchline for most of the jokes, including a mention of the word “retard” for a verbal gag, then a shamelessly cracked 9/11 joke. So if these humans in the film can’t be used properly, of course that means the animals aren’t either. The tiger is eventually explained but not the chicken, there’s more time spent on the math equation graphics while the three dudes gamble, than on explaining those little loose ends. It leads to some really inconsistent screen direction based on whatever Todd Phillips wanted to do, and results in what at the end of the day is a pretty bland comedy when you stop to think about it.
All The Hangover wants you to do in the end is precisely what Todd Phillips does while directing: whatever the impulse, not the conscience or gut, says to do. According to this favorite comedy of that decade, the meaning of life is to get away with what you are able to, as marriage is far less meaningful than getting away with stealing a cop car. I don’t think so. Not on my watch. If everyone were free to do whatever they wanted like the four men in this movie, and not face any real consequences for it, then our world would be in unimaginable chaos. The body count of our world population would reach far beyond the record high, and many more families would be left crying.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!