Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Hangover: Movie Review

As usual I am a bit behind the times when it comes to seeing the "it" movies of the moment.

For the past six months or so I have heard over and over again how funny a movie The Hangover is. Not only was it being called one of the funniest movies ever but raunchy and subversive and new. Supposedly a new comedic paradigm had been created.

I got around to watching it this past weekend and as usual, the media appears to have done its best to overhype what is only a a somewhat above average film.

Don't get me wrong. The Hangover is funny. There are a number of situations the characters get into (surrounding a bachelor party to Vegas) and events that happen to them that well done and perfectly staged and down right hilarious. Bradley Cooper is awesome, pulling off a delicate balance between lovable jerk and complete a-hole while Zack G. (I'm not spelling that last name again) is fantastic as well.

It's just that to call this the "funniest movie ever" or to tell people that they "have to see it" goes well into the realm of hyperbole. Raunchy? Not hardly...virtually no nudity, zero sex, little bathroom humor—not that this is a bad thing but there is nothing here that should make a grown American even squirm slightly. Subversive? Not even close...

As my film teacher in college taught, virtually all comedies (especially successful ones) are inherently conservative in nature. This is the case with The Hangover as well. A good marriage, loyalty to friends, the impact of drugs and drink, etc.—all are given a profoundly conservative spin when you look at them in the film and thus nothing truly "subversive" can come from such a traditionally structured comedy.

The only true gripe I have with the film is a scene early on wherein (for reasons I'll leave unexplained) Zach G's character is sitting with a baby boy and proceeds to make the baby appear to be masturbating. Yeah, when I say it bluntly like that it sounds pretty disgusting doesn't it? While intended to appear as the sophomoric humor of a borderline "special" character in the film this made me do a double take.

Now some have gone as far as to say this is child abuse, I won't go quite that far, but if I was the husband of the mother of that child and was seeking a divorce, that scene would be Exhibit A in showing a judge why she is an unfit mother and not properly looking after her child. Double standards definitely come in here as well. There is NO WAY a director and actor would have gotten away with taking a baby GIRL and making her appear to be touching herself on film—but its JUST a baby boy and so that makes it OK. This wasn't abuse per se but this certainly was child exploitation in our modern society.

That being said, if you can handle that issue, I have no problem recommending the film as it WAS one of the funnier movies I have seen in a long just wasn't quite as good as everyone around me (and I'm sure around you) are making it out to be.

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