Saturday, June 27, 2009
I'm not sorry Randy and I went to see The Hangover Friday night; something stupid and fluffy seemed appropriate for a spontaneous date night after Randy's long day of golf and the imbibing that accompanies those kind of work functions. But I am sorry that the filmmakers had to make such a horrible movie. I did laugh, guiltily, at absurd lines like "I didn't know they handed out rings at the Holocaust" but more often I just sat and stared. The actors try desperately for hilarity in the leaden hands of a director and editor who make most of their efforts futile. Three white guys being beat with a tire iron by a naked Asian man could be tastelessly riotous if shot and cut with weightlessness and a sense of surprise. Not here. The trailer is cut more deftly than the film.
Compare The 40 Year Old Virgin's justly famous chest-waxing with Hangover's lame Tasering scene. Sure, Virgin had the spectacle of Steve Carell's genuine pain, but the staging, acting and cutting of the scene also work to maximize our shocked laughter. When the three protagonists of Hangover line up one by one to get zapped by schoolchildren, there's no tension, no growing suspense, and barely a resemblance of actual pain.
In fact, the entire search for the missing groom after a bachelor party gone bad lacks the crucial elements of urgency and risk. The show inexplicably needs to go on, but you don't feel why that is so important. The bride whose "special day" might be marred is portrayed as a cipher, yet a severe one. The three groomsmen are well-off enough to financially recover from trashing their $4000/night hotel suite.
The homophobia, racism and Helm's harpy girlfriend (Rachel Harris) are gut-churning enough, but I have to reserve some special ire for the character played by Bradley Cooper, a perfect ass who desperately needs his comeuppance. Lacking the endearing awkwardness of co-stars Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis, Cooper plays a cock-sure pretty boy with understanding wife, cute child and a never-ending stream of quips who lands on this feet by the end of the film, annoying confidence intact. I want him to lose the tooth. I wish this movie could have reached down deep into the funny place and tattooed Cooper's face.