is pretty damn funny. Usually Hollywood's "raunchy" comedies
offer as many unfulfilled promises as a Tijuana taxi driver.
"Girls? I know where the best ones are." "Prescription valium
by the gross? No problem." "Want your picture taken riding a
zebra? Right this way." Once you pay your money, though, you
find out the cabbie is liar.
Those cabbies tell
you they'll go anywhere for five bucks. Once you're deep into
the city, in a bad neighborhood and completely lost, they tell
you how much more money you'll have to pay to get where you
want to go. The "girls" turn out to be the guy's fat sister
and wife, and they take your wallet while you are arguing with
him about price outside a shanty with a corrugated steel roof
on a dirt road with flickering bare light bulbs strung house
to house. The valium turns out to be some weird shit homemade
by a chemist, and the tablets are all slightly different shapes
with flecks of mud and slivers of fiberglass in them. The fiberglass
is especially painful when it lodges in your throat, and the
pills make you see magic llamas and your gums bleed. The zebra?
It's nothing but a Goddamn donkey someone whitewashed. Of course,
you don't figure that out because you're sort of high on the
homemade valium, until you get home and look at the pictures.
No matter how many times you call them, the U.S. Embassy in
Tijuana won't pursue getting your eight bucks back.
Just like that cabbie,
Hollywood's raunchy movies usually promise you the full ride
and then take you half way there. They promise the best and
then crap out in a barrio of bad movie cliches. It's just as
dishonest and phony as a Tijuana taxi, except the grassfuckers
puss out because they're afraid of pissing off some tiny, vocal
group of complainers, not being able to advertise during Saturday
morning cartoons, or just because they're fucking cowards. I
was thrilled that The Hangover goes almost all the way
for the cab fare. It mostly delivers on being raunchy and crude,
and it doesn't kowtow much to the conventions of happy endings,
sappy, profound speeches about what it all meant, and all the
shit weak-minded moviemakers rely on instead of originality.
To be fair, The
Hangover has a happy ending, and it has some pretty conventional
plotting. But, it doesn't bend over backward and betray everything
that came before to arrive at them. That's not to say they are
organic so much as director Todd Phillips understands better
than most that the story is just the bones to hang the flesh
of the gags on.
Justin Bartha is
headed to Vegas with for his bachelor party. The pals with him
are Bradley Cooper as a greasy teacher who steals from his students
to fund the trip, Ed Helms as an uptight dentist under the thumb
of a controlling girlfriend, and Zach Galifianakis as the strange,
fat little future brother-in-law who will try almost anything.
Once in Vegas, Galifianakis tries to liven the party up by slipping
what he thinks is ecstasy into their drinks. It's actually roofies.
Sometime the next
day, the boys wake up with raging hangovers in their trashed
suite with a baby in the closet, a live tiger in the bathroom,
Helms missing a tooth, Mike Tyson pissed off at them and the
groom missing. They have to piece together what happened so
they can find Bartha and get him back to California. They discover
they stole a cop car, kidnapped Tyson's tiger (and tried to
buttfuck it), totaled a classic Mercedes convertible, Helms
got married to a stripper played by Heather Graham, and they
took $80,000 from a fey, violent Chinese gangster.
has a good pace and it fills its 100 minutes with mostly strong
gags that go beyond the tepid vision of a Vegas weekend that
got away. I mean, compared to a horseshit fantasy like What
Happens in Vegas where Vegas naughtiness feels about as
weak as a cup of Sanka, The Hangover looks like a hell
of lot better time. In that sense, it is much more like Go,
which was also a damn good Vegas movie. The actors are likeable
for the most part, and service their parts well. The movie captures
some good Vegas shots that aren't the same old Strip-at-night,
faux Eiffel Tower and the lights of Binion's meant to make you
think Vegas is some glamorous, carefree playground and not a
shiny facade on the sinister, grimy world of gambling, prostitution
and drug-dealing. It seems like much of it was filmed on East
Fremont, which is about as sketchy and spooky an area tourist
is likely to go to in Vegas.
Todd Phillips either
doesn't understand or just doesn't give a shit about women.
The ones depicted here are a milquetoast bride, a sainted whore
and a flat-out human-contact-hating bitch. They are all extreme
stereotypes. They also are almost irrelevant to the story, so
it's not that annoying. Another weak element of the story is
its only character arc. That is Helms conversion from browbeaten
dweeb into a guy who will stand up to his women. It's a cheat
and entirely predictable. But director Phillips sort of gets
away with it because he puts as little emphasis on this shit
as he can while keeping the gags coming and the story moving
Most important, The
Hangover doesn't promise to go all the way only to stop
the cab in the creepy part of town where sappy plotlines overwhelm
the vulgar, or the moviemakers make the asinine assumption that
we give a damn about characters they've been taking a dump on
for the last hour. It stays sophomoric, funny and crude right
up until the last five minutes. At which point you can walk
out satisfied to know someone gets married and someone says
something stupid. Four Fingers.
to tell Filthy Something?