Film Review: The Hangover


Count the number of exciting elements in the poster; then count the number of them explained in the film.

The poster promises the best drunken tale ever!

TWKM knows that I’m not a big fan of slapstick comedy. It’s not to say they’ve never put a laugh or smile on my face, it just tends to feel harder work to enjoy them for me. So I was somewhat reluctant to go watch The Hangover with PoppyMan and Phee.

Iwalked into the cinema late not because I was researching the director or looking up reviews about the film. I was waiting for the aforementioned usual suspects. But upon checking the imdb stats just now, and shocked to see the film has hit #145 in the top #250 imdb films with a score of 8.3/10, I have to ask myself – have I just missed the point somewhere?

Looking at the history of our director’s previous films, I realised it’s not the first time I had to sit through his “creative work”. I had the luxury of sitting through Road Trip a few years ago, a film in which Tom Green shameless tried to steal the limelight with his bizarre antics, only failing at it, and leaving behind a trail of cringe-worthy repetitive moments.

In case you hadn’t detected the tone of underwhelmness and cynicism in the previous paragraphs, let me do the slightly outta place thing – give you the final score first, before explaining how I arrived at my conclusion, and see if I change my mind after having thought about the film.

5/10

Not a bad score considering what I think I’m about to say. Let me open with the premise:

The Hangover is a deceptive title, the film is not at all about the hangover the boys were having on the poster. Truth be told they should well have been having one given their supposed experience the night before, except they seem to have forgotten all about it 15 minutes into the film, or the director has saved the hangover cure for the director’s cut. The film, instead, is about a typical Vegas bachelor party gone wrong / wild, where the budding trios have managed to lose their groom, whose marriage they were celebrating. We see the gang wandering around the big screen and the city, getting into implausible yet “hilarious” situations, trying to retrace their footsteps and hopefully finding their groom for the wedding.

Throughout the day, they slowly discovered how they came across a baby, a tiger, minus a tooth, plus a police car. They quickly find themselves confronted by the dramatic consequences of their prior actions, still clueless as how on earth they actually did whatever the hell they managed to do. Surely what happened the night before promises to be a greatest drunken tale of epic proportions!

You would be, and I was too, very much mistaken.

The Hangover feels like it was written by a couple of guys who just randomly came up with the most outrageous thing to wake up to after a drunken night out. They probably then passed out half way through the night while having Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas playing in the background, and quickly presented the premise to the producer. Of course they then struggled to come up with plausible explanations to their ludicrous ideas, and did a Sherlock Holmes (rule out the impossible, leaving the only possible, if just damn right stupid, explanation).

Somehow the actors carried the film a bit with their decent chemistry, and semi-likable “The Sensible, The Crazy and the Plain Weird” combination. The cinematography was reasonable and at times pretty well done, without surpassing the current cinema expectations. Most of the jokes were well timed and generally performed as well, but however well timed and executed a bad joke is, it remains just that – a cringe worthy moment when I felt like I had to laugh only because I’d already paid to see the film (ok that’s a lie but I still have to pay for my cinema pass).

The lazy script puts no effort into explaining the character relationships (except perhaps everyone loves the drunk and the crazy); the more interesting minor characters only afforded limited screen-time each (even through re-occurrences); and the utterly underwhelming explanations of the various “mishaps” really didn’t justify the 100 mins of my life in the cinema, and most certain not the extra time I’m wasting writing a review for it! And of course, to rub salt in the wounds, the film ended with a poorly executed deus ex machina before rewarding the 3 stooges and the groom for their completely random and irresponsible behaviours. Hurray for the movie message!

If you really are desperate to waste your time on this high rated comedy of 2009, let me implore you to merely consider a rental when you’re seriously out of options on a Friday night in. And no, I have not changed my mind about the score.

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