At this point The Hangover is in the Top 200 of the IMDb. That means it’s one of the best movies of the year and one of the 100 best comedies ever. Now we all know that recent movies tend to start higher than they’ll be in a year’s time, but those are just basic facts: so many people have liked the film that it’s currently enjoying quite a high rating.
Having seen the film, I can’t for the life of me tell why people like the film. It’s allegedly “more intelligent than most of the comedies of these past years”. Maybe that’s my problem with the film: it tries to pass off as intelligent but it isn’t as clever as it pretends to be. It’s supposed to be about these four guys who’re treating themselves to a stag party in Las Vegas. One of them is a retard who mispronounces the word ‘retard’. This, in comparison, makes the others look more intelligent. In such a way a one-eyed man will probably see more than three blind people, but I still wouldn’t like him to fly my plane.
The movie stars Ed Helms and Jeffrey Tambor. The latter of Arrested Development fame, the former an ex-correspondent of The Daily Show. This gives you again the idea you’re about to see a comedy which has more intelligence than a flat rock… wrong. Tambor is only in a handful of scenes (but has one of the funniest lines: “You know what they say… what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Except herpes.”) whereas Ed Helms is the perfect embodiment of The Daily Show‘s dichotomy. On the one hand it’s a cerebral comedy show, but sometimes is debilitatingly stupid. The cleverest jokes came from Stephen Colbert and John Oliver, whereas the silly jokes were dished by Rob Corddry and Rob Riggle. Their career is one of poop jokes. Ed Helms and Steve Carell were correspondents who were found in between those two camps: sometimes clever, sometimes annoyingly puerile.
Amazingly enough, this is also true for The Hangover. Some scenes may be clever, but some are even considered childish in kindergartens. To strengthen my theory even further: Riggle, one of the least funny Daily Show people ever, is also in the film. Riggle loved shouting, being infantile and looking authoritarian (he has a military background). Well, he can shout in his cop uniform here, he must be happy.
The entire movie is based on the friends waking up in a hotel room with no recollection of what happened to them the night before: where’s their friend (the one who’s about to be married)? Why is Helms missing a tooth? Why the animals in the room? (Mind you, the presence of the chicken is never explained.) This idea leads them on a crazy trip through Vegas, where they’re even threatened by Mike Tyson. Who’s portrayed as a tough but nice guy. Never mind the rape, the ear-biting scandals and the handful of other scandals I’m forgetting: what a nice guy! At this point The Hangover is very much like the South Park episode “Merry Christmas, Charlie Manson”.
But that ain’t the worst: there’s a Chinese homosexual maffia guy who’s also threatening the troubled threesome. I can’t work out whether I found the film more homophobic or racist here. In fact, the only word that never came up in my head was ‘funny’.
And let us not forget that one of them is supposed to be a teacher. When the friends end up in a police station (interrogated by Riggle – haha, richly comic), the teacher manages to threaten the police officers into releasing them. Sure, it must be said that the policewoman thinks of a much more painful alternative crime, but in real life the teacher wouldn’t get away with it. Oh, the police would look foolish because of what had happened, but Mr. Jackass could say goodbye to his career.
Then again, the film doesn’t really care about logical thinking. What happens in the movie happens to get the plot moving. Whether it’s true or logical doesn’t matter. Which is sometimes also a good thing: if there’s a kid who gets into a fight with the retarded friend, the kid may lose round one of the fight, but there’ll be payback time later in the film.
But what I hated most about the movie was the music. A series of hits (often commercial rap crap) which don’t always fit the scenes but is there to make the kids think the movie is cool. Groovy, but you’re fucking up the movie this way. It could’ve even been used to the film’s advantage: there’s awful rap music playing as the friends enter the hotel room. Had the director thought of shooting that scene in an MTV Cribs or rap video way, the scene would’ve matched with the music. But no, again the film proves it’s not as clever as it thinks it is.
Which brings us to the final and most difficult part: the rating. As much as I hated the film and its alleged cleverness (it makes Mean Girls look like Citizen Kane), I can’t get past the fact that there were some scenes that made me chuckle. (As you should know, not an easy thing to do if you’re hating a movie.) Or that I genuinely like Ed Helms.
On several artistic and cerebral levels, this movie deserves a 1 out of 10. But some scenes were above average (which is normally a 5.5 or 6 in my book). Let those scores clash and you end up with 3.5/10.
P.S. Also in my head was a battle between wanting and not wanting to review the movie. Compromise? Let’s review it without having to look for the stills normally odorning my reviews.