Friday, June 10, 2011


I watched The Hangover the other night with a friend. She had mentioned seeing the sequel with her family over the weekend and I (somewhat shamefacedly) admitted never having seen (or even really heard of) the original. My one sentence review: it is a better Very Bad Things (though that is not much of an accomplishment), and it pales next to both Wedding Crashers and Superbad in the boys-behaving-badly category of movies.

The strangest thing about The Hangover (and what really sank it for me) was how dated it felt. The jokes in the film (gags about Ecstasy, date rape drugs, and “crazy” Mike Tyson were the worst offenders) seemed as if they could have featured in a move produced at any point during the past fifteen years. In some cases--like the two jokes cited above--I actually think that the movie would have been much funnier five or ten years ago. As I watched, I kept experiencing this strange sense of laughing not because a joke struck me as particularly funny, but because I recognized that at one point it had been both topical and funny, and therefore I had an obligation to laugh in recognition of that fact rather than out of any actual humour being generated.

The plot also felt dated, particularly in the way the characters went about reconstructing the previous evening. Cell phones were virtually non-existent in the film and social networking is entirely absent. While all the usual clues help the characters solve the mystery (hospital bracelets, ATM receipts, photo albums), I couldn't help thinking that in 2009 when the film came out, I would assume that cell phones and social networking services (i.e. Facebook and Twitter) would be a much more likely source of information re: one's debauched night in Las Vegas.* In that sense, little about the film struck me as contemporary. I did not see my moment reflected back at me by the film; what I saw were previous films about partying in Las Vegas set in my historical moment. Minus the few cell phone calls that are made in the course of the movie (and the digital camera at the end), The Hangover  could have come out not long after Swingers (another movie whose charms The Hangover fails to match).

Overall, I can't say that I disliked the film, but I will say that it left me extremely puzzled and nonplussed. I doubt I will see the sequel (I cannot understand the logic behind its existence other than “the first movie made money, so . . .” and I don't think that's enough to get me to a theatre).

*A better (read: more interesting) plot for this kind of movie: characters attempt to use Facebook/Twitter to research activities of night before, but run up against never-ending maze of links/etc. in attempt to access information OR service is unavailable/over capacity at key moments, paralyzing their reconstructive efforts (star of film: the Twitter whale).


  1. I am personally offended and distressed and experiencing other negative feelings over this review. In fact, I may have to go cry a little.

    (Time passes.)

    This is absurd! The Hangover, and Bradley Cooper with it, is a joy to human kind.

  2. I will say that Bradley Cooper's performance was excellent. Other good points: the shot of Ed Helms when he first wakes up (as accurate a visual depiction of the feeling of being hungover as I've ever seen), the decision not to have a montage of "crazy" partyting scenes, and Jeffrey Tambor.

    Most of the movie just left me cold, though.