THE HANGOVER (Todd Phillips, 2009, USA) THE HANGOVER leaves a sour aftertaste, as funny as throwing up in the back of your mouth…or into someone else’s. Director Todd Phillips has made a mean spirited and condescending travelogue that is as misogynistic as it is unfunny: a movie that celebrates male entitlement by condemning every female character and condoning domestic duplicity. Phillips choice of casting Mike Tyson in a violent punch-drunk cameo, a man who mumbles his way through inane dialogue that is neither humorous nor comprehensible, is an apt metaphor for the entire film: Tyson is a convicted spousal abuser whose pugilistic skills transcended the boxing ring.
The male characters are unlikable caricatures and one wonders why they are even friends in the first place. The women are enslaved by a vapid script that seems to have been written by a juvenile delinquent, purposely belittled and debased and kept to the periphery of the narrative: the film’s conceit is that men have the right to live secret lives because their partners are not even worthy of the truth. This is an appalling celluloid recipe that is created by idiots and catered to idiots.
Structurally, the film is viscerally appealing, as the three men must discover what happened to the Groom because they have no memory of the “awesome” party they had in Vegas the previous night: clues are revealed and most are explained without the use of flashbacks…the only compliment I will attribute to this fecal fallacy. The cinematography is uneventful and bland while the soundtrack buzzes with a sonorous formulaic frenzy.
The premise is disturbing and patently preposterous: the four men drink alcohol unknowingly spiked with Flunitrazepam, otherwise known as the “date rape” drug. The imaginative effect is that they all party and have grandiose adventures but cannot remember anything in the morning: this is not only impossible but also offensive.
I charge the film’s worst offense as Aggravated Indecent Insult, a Felony of the First Degree, focused upon two specific women: the Dentist’s absurd wife and the prostitute with the “heart of gold”. The good doctor’s spouse is a papier-mâché cliché that exists only in the fevered mind of abusive men who view themselves as victims, allowing them an excuse for abhorrent and criminal behavior. The Vegas hooker takes advantage of the doctor when she knows he is under the influence and, of course, needs a wealthy man to save her from this life of sexual objectification. The film’s finale is the final straw of infidelity, where the Groom’s vow is to his cohorts and not his Bride. Now, if only I could suffer from Anterograde amnesia. Final Grade: (F)