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Notes on

The Hangover

Todd Phillips

1. This movie gave me a contact hangover. I watched it in a state of wavering but remorseless queasiness. I couldn't wait for it to be over, in the way that you can't wait to get out of a hospital waiting room.

1.1. It's not the The Hangover isn't funny. It just brings back too many morning-after memories, too many hours of horribly in-filling memories, like water pouring into a tank into which you have been strapped.

1.2 At the same time, there were sharp limits to my identification with the young men in the story. The thesis of The Hangover is that, for men, self-improvement stops with toilet training. At least one character in the film appeared not to have got quite that far. This would be Alan (Zach Galifianakis).

2. The Hangover is also a scary movie but the most terrifying scene never takes place. That would have been the reckoning with the Caesar's Palace management. (Remember John Hillerman, in What's Up, Doc??)

2.01. Las Vegas is very scary. Over time, it has come to resemble, with transfiguring verisimilitude, our idea of an Earth colony on some distant planet, hundreds of thousands of years from now/ago. Even the luxury suite that the bachelors opt for (some more enthusiastically than others) looks like a funeral home designed for pre-need clients who have thoughtfully embalmed themselves (with Botox, et al) before dying. It certainly doesn't look any better before it's trashed.

2.1. When Stu (Ed Helms) says, "Just kill me now, I don't care," I was with him all the way. If Mike Tyson's personal assistant rubbed out the three groomsmen, then there would be no horrible reckoning with the management. At the time, of course, I didn't know that this scene would not be shown, or even referred to. All I knew was that I was ready to be shot, myself.

2.1.1. It might have been the so-so popcorn. So-so popcorn, first thing in the morning that's a pretty good hangover simulator right there.

3. I've never seen Heather Graham look lovelier. It was nice to know that her character might settle down with Dr Faggot. Until that last scene, she threatened to introduce some genuine heartbreak into The Hangover. If there's one thing that's hard to take when hung over, it's heartbreak. Abyss. Chaos. Kill me now.

3.1 I have now seen Ken Jeong in three movies. Did you know that he is a doctor in real life? Did you know that he's going to appear in Sandra Bullock's next movie? Along with Bradley Cooper? This is the only time that I saw Ken Jeong naked, though. I still hate Mr Jeong from Role Models. Of course, it was King Argotron that I hated. But you know how these antipathies work; sometimes they jump the track.

3.2 Mike Tyson! He is not, unfortunately, half as amusing here as he was in James Toback's Black & White, decking Robert Downey, Jr just like that. ("Did you see that?" No, nobody did. Mr Downey just appeared on the floor, as if by magic.)

3.3 I thought that the guy who ran the wedding chapel was Croatian or something. But it may be that his name was Eddie Palermo, and that he was played by Bryan Callen. More Bryan Callen! He's the kind of comedian who can sell you the so-so popcorn that you already bought. Pre-need.

3.4 I had heard about Mr Galifianakis's weird and new kind of humor. I can't say that I noticed it. Slob humor is slob humor, especially when optimal self-improvement has not been achieved. Of course, it has been a long time since I lived in a college dorm, so I'm not up on the nuances. It is clear that Mr Galifianakis, despite the menace of grossness, trades in nuances.

3.5 What will Ed Helms do next? I see that he does a lot of voice-over work, and, like all the men I've known who were endowed with radio-type voices, he's clever and agile. But why do I ask? Mr Helms is going to be in the new Jeremy Piven movie, The Goods. The trailer for The Goods was not promising, even before I developed the contact hangover. (Good grief! More Ken Jeong!)

3.6. I struggled to see Bradley Cooper as a leading man, but, like Josh Lucas and Paul Bettany, he has an unreliable phizz. There is an inability to convey sincerity, perhaps because the suggestion of insincerity is overpowering. He might be excellent as one of those bad-good characters that are so popular on cable these days. He could be the basketball coach who does what you gotta do and feeds his team "supplements."

3.6.1. Besides, I still hate Mr Cooper from Wedding Crashers. In that film, he seemed very average-sized, even though Owen Wilson is two inches shorter. In The Hangover, he seems quite tall, even though, if you pay attention, he's obviously no taller than Ed Helms. (Except that he is, by an inch. Thank you, IMDb). Speaking of Wedding Crashers, Isla Fisher is not in The Hangover. She would have been great in the John Hillerman role. Especially if the part of the hotel manager (which, unaccountably, doesn't exist) were combined with that of Melissa (Rachael Harris), Stu's shrewish girlfriend. Or they could turn out to be sisters! Wouldn't that be funny!

4. I didn't know they gave out Holocaust Rings.

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