Thursday, March 14, 2019

What Happens in Vegas...

The Hangover
Director: Todd Phillips
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifinakis, Justin Bartha, Heather Graham, Ken Jeong
Released: June 5, 2009
Viewed in theaters: June 15, 2009

I know this movie is already ten years old, but I will be spoiling key plot points, so there is your spoiler warning.

I remember this movie being a big hit when it came out. (Of course I remember! It was only ten years ago!) It was the highest grossing rated R comedy in a very long time and it won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy/Musical. Usually the movies that win in those categories are usually musicals or slight comedies like Shakespeare in Love or Lady Bird. There might be a few laughs, but they're not giving you belly laughs. It was so popular and talked about that I even went to see it in theaters. I did see the other two sequels (terrible...the second one was exactly the same as the first one, only set in Thailand and I barely remember the third one except it was set in Vegas again). Obviously the sequels were made because the first one was so popular and made a ton of money. The first movie was lighting in a bottle; it's just hard to recapture that magic. 

The Hangover kind of reminds me of a comedic Memento. Now it's not told backwards, but our main characters are trying to piece together the puzzle of what happened "the night before", during their friend's bachelor party in Vegas with the clues they obtain. It's a fun and clever concept and you're going along for the ride along with Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) as they try to find their friend, the soon-to-be-married Doug (Justin Bartha). And when I say soon-to-be-married, he has his bachelor party two days before the wedding which seems a bit crazy, especially since the wedding is in Los Angeles and they go to Vegas for the bachelor party. But they need to set the stakes high. If there wasn't a chance Doug might miss his wedding, it wouldn't have an urgency to it and wouldn't be as compelling.

Most movies would have just shown this movie with the bachelor party as the focus: we would have seen them stealing a cop car, Stu getting married to a stripper, and them stealing Mike Tyson's tiger among their many hi-jinxes. It probably still would have been funny, but not nearly as satisfying as watching these three guys try to figure out what the hell happened the night before. And there is some crazy stuff that happened!

Phil and Stu are friends of Doug's, but Alan is meeting them for the first time as he is the brother of Doug's fiancee. It's not just me, but there's something a with Alan, isn't there? It's not just that he unknowingly gives the other guys roofies (he puts them in their drinks when they're having a toast before they start their night) he bought from some guy at the drug store thinking it was ecstasy. What is up with that scene when he and Doug pick up Phil at the school he teaches at and Alan says, "I'm not supposed to be within 200 feet of a school or Chuck E. Cheese." And later, when they're talking about returning to Vegas another week, Alan tells them that week won't work because "The Jonas Brothers are in town." Pretty sure the Jonas brothers were teens back then. And then you get that weird line when he tells Alan that he "found" a baby before at Coffee Bean. I don't think he's a sinister person, but there's definitely something off about him. Not to mention he keeps insisting that he's best friends with Phil and Stu even though they've just met. He's a bit...intense when he declares his friendship towards his sister's fiancĂ©'s friends. He tells Doug that he doesn't care if they kill someone during their stay in Vegas (spoiler alert: they don't, thankfully!) and while he's giving his speech on top of the roof, he gets out a pocketknife and starts to slice open his palm so they can be blood brothers! A bit much!

I was confused by Bradley Cooper's character, Phil. Through most of the movie he's a pompous jerk. He tells his students (who he refers to as "nerds") he needs the money for the field trip they're going on, but we find out he's using the money for his Vegas trip (and he has a LOT of it!). He sarcastically says he's going to miss his wife and kid on their way to Vegas and claims he hates his life. Basically, he's not a very nice person. You could even say he's a bit, ahem, shallow. However, at the end of the movie when he's at the wedding and his wife and son meet up with him, he's very lovely to her and super sweet to his is this all an act? Does he just act like a douche when he's around his friends or did the events of Vegas change him into a better person? I suppose watching the sequels again could help me figure this out, but I really don't want to watch the sequels again.

The straight man of the group is Stu. He's the most responsible one (although only when they're sober!), though that's not a hard feat with this group! I had seen all The Hangover movies many years before I binged-watched The Office on Netflix this past year. I knew Ed Helms was on that show, but I didn't realize he doesn't show up until the third season so when I started watching it, I kept wondering where "that guy from The Hangover was". It is pretty humorous when watching that show and Andy (Helm's Office character) is gone from several episodes or is written off the show for awhile and you know that he's filming one of The Hangover movies. Andy doesn't wear glasses and that took me awhile to get used to that since I was used to Ed Helms as Stu who DOES wear glasses. Stu is also a bit of a pushover as he has a girlfriend, Melissa, who is horrible to him and he's so afraid of her that he has to lie to about everything because he doesn't think she'll approve of anything he does, so he tells her the bachelor party is in Napa Valley where they're going for a weekend of wine tasting. 

On the rooftop, before their wild and crazy night, Phil makes the toast, "To a night we'll never remember, but the four of us will never forget." Truer words have never been spoken! We see a time lapse, then it's the next morning and we're back in their hotel suite. You know, their suite isn't as trashed as you think it would be. Sure, housekeeping isn't going to be too thrilled, but nothing you wouldn't be able to clean up and be good as new. We see a bubble-filled hot tub, a TV askew on the wall, a woman's bare legs as she leaves the room, a chicken strutting about (we never do find out how the chicken is involved in this story), and Stu is the first one to wake up with a missing front tooth.  

One of the most surprising reveals is the tiger in the bathroom. We first see it when Alan uses the toilet and when he sees the tiger, he just blinks at it and says, "Stupid tiger", then realizes that there's a TIGER IN THE BATHROOM and runs out screaming. The other surprising reveal is the baby in the closet. (Super cute baby, by the way). I love it when Alan says, "Check its collar or something." I also like the Three Men and a Baby reference when he says, "It's got Ted Danson, Magnum PI, and that Jewish actor." Now that's a movie I haven't seen in a long time!

Of course we'll find out that the baby is the son of Jade (Heather Graham), the stripper who Stu married in the early hours of the morning during their crazy night and the woman who is leaving the apartment, we find out later, to grab coffee for everyone. Jade isn't getting any Mother of theYear awards anytime soon. First of all, who marries a man she just met the night before? And who leaves their child with that man? She's lucky that Stu is a good person and is responsible (when he's not under the influence of drugs and alcohol!) I'm sure many mothers cringed when they put the baby in the police car (which they stole the night before) without a car seat and drove over the sidewalk; not to mention the part when the bad guy bashes in the windshield with the baby in the backseat!

Through clues they find in their pocket they find that Stu has an ATM receipt from the Bellagio for $800 and that Phil is wearing a hospital band where he went for "a mild concussion and some bruised ribs." This is also when they learned that they had roofies in their systems. Yikes! 
Stu's overbearing girlfriend keeps calling him during the worst times such as when they're in the police car with the baby who is crying and when the bad guys, who are after their money, are bashing in the windshield. He tells her they're just about to go on a tractor ride and for her benefit, says, "Sir can you please start the tractor?", but of course she can hear all the commotion and is highly suspicious of him.

When they return back to their suite, Mike Tyson is there singing along to Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight", one of the scenes I remember most from seeing it in theaters. I do agree with him; the part with the drums is the best part. We learn that the tiger belongs to Tyson and he wants them to return it to his mansion. At first I was wondering why he just didn't call animal control, then realize he was probably owning this tiger illegally as it is probably not legal to own wild animals. Oh, wait, hold up. I just did some Google research and Nevada is one of eight states where owning a pet tiger is considered legal. (Good to know my state isn't on this list! I don't want to run into anyone with their "pet" tiger!)

I did some research to see if Mike Tyson had a pet tiger and not only did he have one, but he had three of them! (I also found another source saying he had seven of them at one time...good Lord!) I'm not sure if the one used in the movie was one of his or was a tiger "actor". He doesn't own them anymore because he didn't have the proper license so they were taken away. That's probably best for everyone involved!

They put some roofies in a raw steak to knock out the tiger and drive him to Tyson's mansion, but the tiger ends up waking up on their way and claws Phil, who's driving, in the neck. Now you can tell it's a fake tiger head (the only part you see) in the backseat when they're all in the car because they didn't want any of the actors in close proximity to the tiger. They have to push the car with the tiger inside the rest of the way. There, Tyson shows them a video of them stealing the tiger so that's how they ended up with it. Now, I've never been to Las Vegas, but I can only imagine that people are up during all hours of the night so I find it peculiar that nobody saw them with the tiger when they returned to Caesars Palace. At the very least, you think there would be cameras and the tiger would have been caught on those! Oh, and this probably shouldn't come to a surprise to anyone, but Mike Tyson is a horrible actor.

They find their Mercedes, the one Doug told his father-in-law that he would be the only one driving and when they hear something in the trunk, they think Doug is in there, but it is Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) who accuses them of stealing his 80 grand and that he has kidnapped their friend, Doug. Alan, who brought a book about counting cards, gets an idea of how to get the money back for Chow and this is when we get the Rain Man scene (with Alan as Rain Man and Phil as Tom Cruise) where they're coming down the elevator in the casino complete with "Iko Iko" playing. I laughed when there's all these equation swirling around Alan's head on the screen. They obtain the money and make the trade, but the man is not Doug. He is named Doug, but he's a black guy who they start calling "Black Doug".

Stu finally figures out that Doug is on the roof of the hotel and they find him there and have to get him back to California with just hours before he's about to get married. The poor guy was there for nearly a day! If I were his fiancee, I would have been so pissed he was late to our wedding! The do manage to make it just in the nick of time, but it's pretty down to the wire. Stu breaks up with his girlfriend and makes a real date with Jade who tells him the reason he lost his tooth was because Alan bet him he wasn't a good enough dentist to pull out his own tooth...and he did! We see this as one of the pictures on the digital camera they find where they took a bunch of pictures of the night they didn't remember. We still never find out how they came to get a chicken! 

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