At the end of the last century, it seemed that comedy was entering a
Renaissance. Several comedy films in that period combined characterization,
plot, brains, and raunchy laughs. In the course of just two years (1998-99),
moviegoers were able to see several great comedies like The Big Lebowski, There's
Something About Mary, Rushmore, Office Space, and South Park. At least one of
those (Lebowski) is clearly a contender for the greatest comedy ever made, and
all five of them are distinctively original. After that spate of brilliant
works, the comedic soil of the new millennium seemed to be seeded with
promise. Unfortunately, that soil has not proved to be very fertile.
Most of the comedies of the current decade have been the usual guy stuff
aimed at frat boys and/or nerds. The Coens lost their senses of humor; the Farrellys ran out of ideas; Parker and Stone concentrated on their TV show;
and the comedy scene has degenerated into an endless 80s-fest of predictable
and generic "raunchy coming of age" and "slobs vs snobs" comedies. There
have really only been three truly brilliant, original comedies in these ten
years: Shaun of the Dead, Borat, and In Bruges. Maybe four if you count The
Royal Tenenbaums. There have been some brilliant movies with funny elements,
like Eternal Sunshine, Amelie, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, but those are not pure
comedies. There have been some
very good cookie-cutter comedies with brilliant comic moments, like The
40-Year-Old Virgin, Anchorman, Tropic Thunder, Dodgeball, Role Models, and
several others, but with the three or four exceptions mentioned above, we have
not seen the kind of movie that really has something new to add to the
genre; the kind that makes you compete with your friends to see who can quote the most
Despite the outrageously high IMDb rating (8.5 as I write this), The Hangover is not one of those
dazzlingly original films.
It is about four guys who go to Vegas for a bachelor party. Usual formula.
The groomsmen wake up on the morning after the party with such hangovers
that they have no memory of the previous evening. As they get their bearings,
they eventually realize they have misplaced something rather critical to the
upcoming wedding - the groom. Given their collective memory loss, it is
no simple task to piece together what happened to their missing friend. Their
only hope is to follow the clues available to them. One of them is wearing a
hospital wristband. Another is missing a tooth. More significantly, they have
a baby in their closet, a live tiger in their bedroom, a missing mattress, and
an angry Mike Tyson sitting at their piano, singing a Phil Collins song. When
they begin to follow the trail of evidence to places outside of their hotel, they
try to retrieve their car from valet parking. The valet does not bring them their Mercedes convertible, but a police car.
And so on.
Even though this film journeys through familiar territory, two things make
1. The Hangover is willing to push to the very edge of taste and even
beyond. You can get a whiff of that from the set-up above, but there is much more. The
film really has no boundaries at all. In fact, I can't even imagine how it managed to get an
R rating. There is a scene in which a pedophile ("I can't go within 200 yards
of a school ... or a Chuck E Cheese") is pretending to play with an infant's
penis to amuse his friends. There are naked men everywhere, in all shapes and
sizes and ages. There are lingering glances at a woman giving Zach Galifianakis a beejer - dick and all. I suppose it is a stunt dick, but if
your kids see the scene, does it matter whether Mr. Happy is real or
prosthetic? It looks the same either way. This is a seriously raunchy film.
2. The Hangover does much more with its formula than you have any right to
expect if you go to films in which four guys go to Vegas for a bachelor party.
It spends a lot of time on characterization. It has an intricate and involving
mystery or two at its core. And it has a bizarre, outrageous and hilarious
performance from Zach Galifianakis as one of the four principals. Zach's
character and his performance are so wacked-out that they make the entire film
worthwhile and fill us with the goodwill necessary to overlook some of the
duller adventures encountered by our lads on their way toward the groom's
Of course, one cannot give Galifianakis sole credit for the way his
character turned out. There are writers who gave him those lines, and there
was a director who realized that he was the ideal guy to deliver those lines.
Still one can't help but note that the film would be nothing special without
And with him?
Well, as I already wrote, it's not one of those daringly fresh and
brilliant comedies we have been waiting for since the unfulfilled promise of
the late 90s. It falls into the "all other" line.
But it is absolutely in the front of that line.
In addition to being a very funny film, The Hangover also has
Heather Graham exposing a breast.
Laughs and Rollergirl's tit? Right there is everything you need for an
evening's entertainment. Heather turns 40 in January, and every bit of her
looks just as good as ever, in my opinion. (See Hank's section below for
confirmation of that.)
The quality of the clip is awful. It's a cam, and a bad one at that ... but
need I remind you this is Heather Fucking Graham topless?