Thursday, July 2, 2009

Why The Hangover sucks

Now that most of Canada has seen The Hangover, I don't think I'm going to ruin anyone's idea of a good time by critiquing this flat, unfunny, and structurally bankrupt movie. (Sorry Mom--even she went to see it and liked it I guess.)

I like to laugh just as much as anyone and I don't have art film tastes. My quarrel with The Hangover is that it doesn't even bother to pay lip service to a half-decent story. It's clearly a script that was made up by the writers as they went along.

Job one in a screenplay is to have a central character who engages us. We don't have to like them, but we need to give a damn about what happens to them. I defy anyone to tell me who the central character of this movie was. Was it the tight-assed hen-pecked dentist? The uber-cool playah? The groom? The groom's half-wit future brother-in-law? Beats me. And I do not believe for a second that any two of these characters could be friends with each other, let along be willing to spend a weekend in Las Vegas together. So, like that other fake premise movie The Usual Suspects, this one is bogus from the set up. (And why is The Usual Suspects just as bogus? Maybe if the police lineup actually looked like it was genuine, but as soon as I saw that lineup with 5 men who looked nothing like each other, I knew this whole thing was a set up. The rest of the movie was trying to figure out why the rest of the audience apparently forget every crime movie or episode of Law and Order they'd ever seen. Sigh...)

Back to The Hangover. Lacking a central character, I then hoped that one would eventually emerge as the character who undergoes some kind of demonstrable transformation through the experience of what happens to them. Character change has driven drama since Sophocles wrote Oedipus 2500 years ago. We crave it and that's what audiences love about a story after it's over. They may not be able to spell out why, but even a cursory analysis of what audiences have liked in dramatic storytelling over the past couple millenia, comes back to the same few principles, of which character transformation is in the top 3. The only character who undergoes any kind of change is the idiot dentist who finally has the cohones to dump his shrewish girlfriend, but who didn't know he'd do that after the first scene between them? And as far as transformations go, it doesn't even come close to what John Cleese becomes through his adventures in A Fish Called Wanda. (See, comedies don't have to be stupid to be funny.)

This movie traffics on surprise--the naked Chinese guy jumping out of the trunk, for example--but surprise is a cheap form of movie entertainment. It's the easiest thing for a film to do. Splatter films do it all the time. And that's all this screenplay does. Surprise and or shock for shock's sake--lest we forget the infamous flash frames from the tail credits. But how about a little set up and pay off? Something that doesn't just goose the audience, but actually entertain them with some kind of actual creative work on the part of the screenwriter?

I could go on and on, but it's like shouting off a cliff after the ship has sailed. The entire country went to see this movie. It's enough to make me weep.

20 comments:

mrsubjective said...

agreed, this movies sucked big time.

Rico Fabrini said...

>"but we need to give a damn about what happens to them.
> I defy anyone to tell me who the central character of this movie was."

A whacked out trip to Vegas that we piece together the next day as they go along.

> I then hoped that one would eventually emerge as the character who undergoes some
> kind of demonstrable transformation through the experience of what happens to them.

I've never been to the U.S.
Have you ever been to Vegas?
Had you been expecting to have an epiphany with only one night to spend there?

> Character change has driven drama since Sophocles wrote Oedipus 2500 years ago.
> We crave it and that's what audiences love about a story after it's over.

And if that's true, does this mean that audiences shouldn't like something in
which *you* did not see the ingredient that *you* think is essential?

Take Allan, don't we *get to know* him more as the movie unfolds?

---------------------------------
Btw, your data is from actual surveys of audiences?.. "over the past couple millenia"?
So, "They may not be able to spell out why"... but Sugith's "cursory analysis" is?

Rico.

Brian said...

Not every movie has to have a main character. Is there some kind of motherfucking rule book for movies? No. Fuck you, you mother FUCKING idiot. This movie is funny, asswipe.

simon said...

This movie sucked. Way overrated.

Andrew said...

Who was the cameo I was suppose to be excited about?

Jennie said...

Before I wasted $20 on the DVD, I had heard from everybody that this movie was outrageously funny...like holding-your-stomach-from-laughing funny....and I didn't see what the big deal was after I watched it. I kinda felt ripped off. You expect at some point to get to see what happened to the guys that night...and they give you a series of pictures that still make no sense at the END of the movie. WTF....Not a good film. I won't waste my time or money on the sequel...It was NOT that damn funny! Extract was funnier that this movie, and it definitely didn't get as much hype as The Hangover. Sad.

Olive said...

This movie was great. Take it for what it is, a ridiculous movie about a black out night. Anyone who has experienced a ridiculous night in vegas, a drunk black out night, or both, can understand why this film doesn't need to make sense and why we don't need to see everything laid out in the end.

varium86 said...

I couldnt agree more with you. I remember watching the previews knowing i would hate it but because of the buzz i checked it out on DVD... I shut it off after the tiger in the bathroom scene. I couldnt take it anymore. Bad directing, bad casting (no way they would be friends with each other) and a gawd awful story to kick things off. Maybe if they used different lighting and film... Make it look more like it was shot for TV or something. I dont know. The part that disturbs me the most is that this was the biggest comedy of the year and all time for DVD sales. Terrifying to think whats in store for us if this is what people gobble up.

Julz said...

I laughed - ONCE - when they got tazered by the cop. And I nearly laughed when the skinny kidnapped guy beats them up - that's just what the half-wits needed. It was boring & predictable. A bunch of drunk, self-centred Bucks Party nobs making a mess of themselves & everything else. How original. And what's the deal with pretending to wank the baby??? That's just gross man. When did it become ok to joke about that sort of thing? Oh well, they've made their millions from it.

jbanks said...

This movie was just plain terrible. No, a movie doesn't have to a central character all the time or even make a hell of a lot of sense. If the jokes were at all funny, if the acting was good, that is all I could have asked for. But I kept waiting for funny, and never got it. Terrible movie.

L.Cass said...

I'm getting in on this post a little late, only because I just saw "The Hangover" yesterday. I've been putting it off cause it looked freakin lame... but my mates where like "no...it's hilarious!"

And though it wasn't the worst movie... it certainly isn't as funny as so many people make it out to be.

Whole time I was watching it i was missing "dude where's my car"

Abhishek Patro said...

True. Hard to imagine how so many people can like crap like this. Evolution was not supposed to make mistakes, the last I heard, but apparently intelligence doesn't count as a survival trait anymore.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, I guess this was one of those comedies that felt the need to leave out any shred of what could be called 'humour'.

Anonymous said...

Movie fucking sucked! it was stupid as fuck! how is it called the hangover when they got roofied??? hello when you get roofied you can't even move let alone do the shit they did! that's why it's called the date rape drug you pass out not go around doing dumb ass shit! whoever likes this must have the mental capacity of a severly retarded child!

Anonymous said...

I dont know how this shit got more score than Borat on imdb...

Anonymous said...

This movie is not just unfunny, it is Harold and Kumar go to White Castle backwards! And it is not as nearly as funny as it. It shows a mom breastfeeding her baby! And people call that humor!?

Elswire said...

I'm so glad to have found this blog, as I have felt like an outcast for not liking that stupid movie! Maybe I expected too much with all the hype but not only did I not find it funny, I thought it was a terrible waste of valuable leisure time. I would be upset if I had bought that DVD rather than being loaned a copy by a "friend".

Anonymous said...

The original Hangover was such garbage, I find it ironic that America is now waking up and saying the same things about the sequel. How about the whole entire concept was crap to begin with.

I laughed maybe once or twice during the original Hangover, that's it. The rest of the time I sat in complete shock at how unfunny and awful it was.

It was like the director didn't know whether to make it comedy or a dramatic crime thriller. Ridiculous!

sandman said...

just saw the original hangover, won't even bother with the sequal, what a boring lame peice of shit.
it realy seemed like these clowns just made it up as they went along.
very boring slapstick, the dialogue was not funny.
i don't even know where i was supposed to laugh.

just saw the horrible bosses also, laughed alot, it was a good 90 minutes of laughes, way better than hangover.

Max Cady said...

This could possibly be the worst movie ever made. Anyone who thinks it is funny shouldnt be allowed to breed. Humor is intelligence and this movie is completely devoid of humor. I remember the marketing campaign for the first one and didnt buy it for a second and waited for it to fall on its face after I mistakenly rented it for my gf and couldnt last ten minutes. If I really hate something I am convinced it will be a hit in America......100%. Take it to the bank.