I need to go to the movies more often with my sister. Most of the films that we have seen in the past have been comedies. She is among those who are close to me that like to take me to such productions to see me laugh. When my chuckles get going, I can carry on with a wide range histrionics. I am not necessarily trying to attract attention, though when I am truly amused I cannot help it. There have been times when I have laughed so hard I have literally fallen out of my chair. In other moments, particular while watching Parks and Recreation (2009-2015), I have run out of the room waving my arms uncontrollably with wild guffaws and snorts issuing from my mouth. In short, I like to laugh. What I do not like is that I once carried on in this manner while watching The Hangover (2009). This is why I say I need to see more films with my sister. I need better cinematic memories with her. I saw this the first time in theaters with her, and like many others at that time, ignorantly went along with much of the so-called humor in it. In re-watching it recently, I was mostly struck by how crude it is. Whether or not this is the result of a deepening of my faith, you can decide. I will say it is, though I like to think that I can still have a sense of humor. Indeed, some of the most enlightened people (in the Christian sense) that I have known can also be goofballs. I appreciate that much more these days than sex and toilet jokes.
We back in to the debauched story that is The Hangover with a bride-to-be, Tracy (Sasha Barrese), making several calls that go unanswered. It is the day of her wedding, and her future spouse, Doug (Justin Bartha), is nowhere to be found. This is true not just for her, but for his groomsmen, with whom he had gone two days before to Las Vegas for his bachelor party. When she gets a call from the best man, Phil (Bradley Cooper), it confirms her worst fears: they have lost Doug. How did they get in this predicament? That is the subject of the rest of the movie. We go back to just before their departure for Sin City, and Doug and his soon-to-be brother-in-law Alan (Zach Galifiankis) are getting fitted for their tuxedos for the imminent big day. Alan, who is a bit strange (to say the very least), is describing as only he can how moved he is to be a part of the celebration. Soon they are joined by the father of the bride, Sid (Jeffrey Tambor), who gives their bachelor party the use of his classic Mercedes-Benz to drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. They then proceed to pick up Phil from the school where he is a teacher, and also scamming his students by overcharging them for an upcoming field trip. Rounding out their group is the dentist Stu (Ed Helms), who is caught in a relationship with the . . . testy, to put it nicely, Melissa (Rachael Harris). She is abusive, to put it not so nicely, and has cheated on him to boot. He gets grief from Phil about this, Alan follows along with it because he is obsessed with Phil, but Doug has sympathy for all. Hopefully, this explains the dynamic between the four. When they arrive at their Caesars Palace, their resort during their stay, they upgrade to a villa and prepare for their night. They then go up to the roof to toast the coming festivities (during which Alan cuts open his hand in attempt to make them blood brothers) . . . and then they wake up the next morning. The villa that Alan, Phil, and Stu awaken in is shattered. There are open liquor containers all over, smoldering electronics, nobody is sleeping in beds, a stranger walks out the door, Stu is missing a tooth, there is a chicken wandering around, and a tiger is in the bathroom, to name but a few of the oddities they encounter. You will also note that there is no Doug. What proceeds from there is a sort of scavenger hunt as they piece together clues based on whatever they can find amongst the assorted items that might tell them where to find Doug. I will power through this because little of it is worth explaining. They find: a baby, who turns out to belong to a stripper/call girl named Jade (Heather Graham) that Stu had married; a hospital tag on Phil that leads them to Jade; that they had stolen a cop car; that the tiger belongs to Mike Tyson; and in the trunk of the Mercedes, which they get back from police impoundment, has in the trunk a naked Chinese man named Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong). Mr. Chow turns out to be some kind of crime lord, and he believes that Alan had stolen $80,000 from him. He also appears to have Doug, and he demands the money in exchange for their friend. Alan channels Raymond “Ray” Babbitt (Dustin Hoffman) from Rain Man (1988) and, with some help from the others, wins the necessary money counting cards at a black jack table. However, when they present the funds at the appropriate place and time, it turns out to be the wrong person. Right name, Doug (Mike Epps), but wrong race, so they take to calling this one “Black Doug.” They have reason to be upset with this Doug because instead of selling Alan the ecstasy he thought he had spiked their drinks with the night before, it had been rufilin, more commonly known as “roofies.” The other Doug redeems himself somewhat when he explains why he is puzzled by that name for the “date-rape drug,” believing they should instead be called “floories.” This triggers a memory for Stu when he and Phil had played a prank on their friend Doug at summer camp by moving his mattress out onto the floating dock. Earlier they had seen a mattress impaled on one of the statues atop the resort, but had thought nothing of it. Now they know it was Doug trying to signal them. Hence, they find their sunburnt friend on the roof, a bit redder for the experience but no worse for the wear. From there it is a mad scramble back to Los Angeles to make it in time for the wedding, getting their tuxedos tossed to them along the way from a moving van, and dodging any prying questions. We close with them reviewing pictures taken from the night they cannot remember, which are shown during the credits. I strongly encourage to just stop watching at this point.
The reason I think you should shut The Hangover off before the end credits roll is because it contains the crudest images of the film. The rest is bad enough, but they seem to stoop to an even lower level with these pictures. Throughout there is a near total disregard for any sense of propriety, but the worst are saved for the end. In thinking back to how I thought about it then versus now, the one thread that runs through both times is that I wish there had been more of Doug. Then again, if there was, there would not have been a movie. Another way to look at it is if he had been a bigger fixture of the film, then we would have had to endure a great deal more inappropriate material. The reason I wish this is because he is the only sympathetic character, though I will credit Stu for finally standing up to Melissa at the wedding. Still, his pessimistic attitude most of the time can be grating. Hence, that leaves Doug. I have been a part of bachelor parties before, but none of them have even been in the same universe in theme or tone as this one. My first involved a group of us getting together to play touch football. For bachelor parties I have been to Cuba, been in a casino (though I did not gamble), organized a zombie horde, gone to EPCOT, and raced go-karts, to name a few. Never has it crossed my mind to invite strippers, do drugs, or generally act a dang fool. And yes, you can attribute this to me being a square Catholic man. If the day ever comes when I get married, I feel blessed to know that my friends would probably never dream of giving me anything like what you see in this film.
That is all I have to say about The Hangover. I could not think of a true Catholic angle to this film because it is so irreverent in its presentation as to be degenerate. I will remain puzzled as to why anyone finds entertaining such behavior as on display in this film, whether or not a bachelor party is involved. They say that such things help men get all the bad behavior out of their systems before settling into a lifetime of hoped-for marital bliss. To my mind, sin is sin, and when you go to a place with that word in the title, the things that you do there do not stay there, as their advertising material claims.
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