Consensus within the target demo of viewers 18-24 is that The Hangover is funny. If you haven’t seen it yet, chances are someone has told you that it’s hilarious and that you have to see it. I agree–The Hangover is a funny movie that I’m surprised has only been made now. I mean, the pitch sells itself: Four guys, bachelor party in Vegas, they party so hard they can’t remember the night before and have to retrace their steps so they can make it back in time to the wedding with the lost groom. Hollywood loves safe and easy concepts like this, and is basically why I actually had low expectations going into the film. Sure, I expected crude humor, vulgar language, sexual sight gags and tired drinking jokes, but I was surprised that the writing was solid and that while each scenario the group found themselves in seemed more absurd than the last, the movie was well paced and keep the laughs going.
Like I said though, it’s kind of hard to mess up a movie about guys partying in Vegas. Insert every stereotype and cliche you can think of, get a capable cast and, let Todd Phillips direct what could easily be considered a cousin of Old School. The Hangover is probably the funniest movie I’ve seen since The 40-Year-Old-Virgin. Zack Galifianakis is fantastic in every scene and Ken Jeong is great as the flamboyant Asian gangster. I feel like the greatest success of the film is walking that line of commercial viability and including all of the expected Vegas partying and hangover cliches, but still remaining funny and different. Of course they go to a wedding chapel and gamble and hook up with strippers, but it’s handled so perfectly with subtle tricks that the inconsequential plot becomes fresh again.
The film is good, but I don’t think it’s a classic. I’m sure douche bags will quote dialogue for the rest of the summer, but the movie relies too heavily on swearing for cheap laughs and outrageous situations for comedy. I’m still confused as to why filmmakers (and the audience) think that it’s funny when actors just say the word “fuck” for no reason and without the context of a sentence. Also, I could have done without the whole tiger/Mike Tyson subplot. I know why it’s supposed to be funny, I just didn’t laugh as hard as when say, when they were at the police station. And finally, I can’t forgive the two most blatantly ripped off scenes in modern movie history: (fakest animatronic) tiger in the car vs. deer in the car (Tommy Boy) and taser in the face vs. tranquilizer in the neck (Old School). I know audiences are dumb and Hollywood loves to recycle jokes, but come on! I know we’re not reinventing the wheel here, but how can you steal the same joke from arguably a funnier movie that you already directed?
The beauty of a film like Old School, which I keep going back to for obvious reasons, is that you can re-watch that movie today and it still holds up. It’s played on cable a ton, and the jokes are still funny despite being edited. In a few years I don’t think we’ll feel the same way about The Hangover. You put this movie on Comedy Central and you’ll kill half the punchlines. It might have life on DVD, but after you know how they spent their night, will the journey still be as funny? Will Galifianakis’ performance be as celebrated as Farrell’s? My advice is to see the film now, enjoy it for what it is, and don’t think too much about it afterwards.