“The Hangover” – 2009. Dir. Todd Phillips


With Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifiankakis, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha, Jeffery Tambor, Heather Graham, Ken Jeong and Mike Tyson.

“He wasn’t a bellhop, he was a bartender – and she was wasted. And if you must know; he didn’t even cum inside her.”

“And you believe that?”

“Yeah – I do. She’s grossed out by semen.”

I think we’ve either all seen this film, or we know a lot about it. Four friends go to Vegas for a bachelor party. They wake up the next morning and the groom Doug (Justin Bartha) is missing. The friends Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifiankakis) can’t remember a thing from the night before and they go in search for Doug, to get him back for the wedding.

Todd Phillips creates a smart film with a wickedly fun script and excellent chemistry between Galifiankakis, Helms and Cooper. I think the best part about the film is the fact that we don’t actually see the night of the bachelor party – we just see the beginning and the aftermath and we are as clueless as the people involved.

The film starts out incredibly funny, but once the film hits the hour marker and Ken Jeong pops naked out of the trunk of their car- the film begins to lose me. It’s not that the film isn’t funny, it’s just that it becomes outlandish for the sake of becoming outlandish. I just found Ken Jeong’s character not funny and really obnoxious, almost to the point where I would lose interest and get bored. I just don’t think stuff like that is funny anymore – the over caricature of stereotypes. It’s like the white guy acting like a black guy that we’ve seen so many times…shit gets old.

One thing that I would really like to point out was how Todd Phillips showed a lot of homage to Martin Scorsese. The scene when Stu first wakes up the next day, and gets up – there is a small shot of a still dolly where Stu is walking around the apartment which is very reminiscent of Harvey Keitel’s drunken stooper in “Mean Streets” and then of course when Ken Jeong is wearing his sunglasses and we see the silver Mercedes in the reflection of his sunglasses – ala “Casino”.

I do think Phillips is a very good director and for as much as I like “Old School”, I think that “The Hangover” is his best film. I don’t think it’s easy to make a good comedy – most comedies of my generation are wretchedly awful that is a crowd pleaser, but Phillips is able to make a good movie that is a dark and pretty twisted comedy.

The edginess of Alan must have been a gamble, because people were either going think he was hysterical or very offensive. Think about the play on Alan being a pedophile, and then later in the film Alan is the one who is carrying the baby around, and having the baby mimic jacking his little “weenis”. Look I thought that was awesome, but I’m sure there were some who didn’t.

I’m also glad Phillips chooses to go with a new generation of actors. The whole Wilson brothers, Will Farrell, John C. Reilly, Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller class is really starting to wear out. It was like they were trying to replace the original group of excellent comedic actors of Steve Martin, Bill Murray, John Belushi, Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd who are in fact – unreplacable. But I do feel that if “The Hangover” were made in the 1980’s – those actors would have played the parts perfectly. Steve Martin/Eugene Levy would have been a perfect Stu, while Chevy Chase/Bill Murray could have been Phil, John Belushi as Alan, and maybe even Dan Aykroyd as Doug.

The film really does succeed with Phillips’ direction, a very witty and clever script and excellent, excellent chemistry with the three leads. And of course – Mike Tyson’s cameo was HILARIOUS! Not only air drumming to “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins, but his sucker punching of Alan was just as funny. But the third act of the film really starts to drag, and doesn’t live up to the first act. What saves this film is it has such a high replay value. I’m just very happy that Phillips didn’t have Will Farrell make a cameo in the film, which would have tainted it like “Wedding Crashers” was tainted.

I watched this film on Blu Ray for the first time last night and it has a very high quality transfer and a special feature on the DVD was a Gag Reel that was one of the best I’ve seen. There is an excellent improve/deleted scene of Alan and Stu making fun of one another with quick and witty one liners. It is hysterical!

Rating: 7.5/10

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“Boogie Nights” – 1997. Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

With Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Don Cheadle, Luis Guzman, John C. Reilly, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Ricky Jay, Heather Graham, Thomas Jane, Alfred Molina with Robert Ridgley with Robert Downey, Sr. and Phillip Baker Hall.

Everybody has one special thing.

“Boogie Nights is the story of Eddie Adams, a young boy trying to find it place in life. The one thing that Eddie has that sets him apart from the rest of the boys is his enormous cock. Enter the world of Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights”. You’ve all seen it, and if you haven’t I feel bad for you.

The film opens with a tremendously amazing opening long shot of the wonderful cast of characters in this film. The one continuous shot that Anderson creates here is a marvel of filmmaking (yes I am have seen “I am Cuba” and I know that’s where Anderson got the opening of his film from). With this long introduction we start outside the club “Boogie Nights” and carefully watch as legendary porn king Jack Horner (Reynolds) and his girlfriend Amber (Moore) enter. Through the bowels of the club, we are introduced to every important central character of the film.

Once things settle inside the club, Jack sees Eddie – and it’s love at first sight. They quickly form a bond that blossoms into a wonderful partnership. This is a simple generic “coming of age story” (GOD I HATE THAT TERM!) but it is so deeply complex. It’s this interweaving cast of characters that become so invested with the film and other characters and especially us, the audience.

Paul Thomas Anderson is the next Martin Scorsese.

PTA delivers us such an amazing feat – he doesn’t only show us the ups and downs of the characters, their births and redemptions, but also makes a complex story that is the film the prefaces “Magnolia” and shows us that this is the film “Crash” wanted to be.

The screenplay is unreal; it’s one of the best I’ve seen/read. But without a cast of excellent actors to match your excellent screenplay – you’re left holding the bag. Let me slightly digress:

Burt Reynolds – This is undoubtedly Reynolds’ finest performance. He is truly on fire in this film. The way his character flows, and commands our attention – we can’t take our eyes off of him, and his wonderful creamy hair and beard. Way to fuck up the rebirth of your career by punching PTA and publicly degrading the film – oh…but you got an Oscar Nomination for it. You were amazing in “Magnolia”…oh…wait.

Mark Wahlberg – People don’t give Marky Mark enough credit. When I was younger I thought he was the worst actor I’ve ever seen – but the joke of the matter is, that his character is a joke. He is just such a bimbo. I think Wahlberg getting nominated for “The Departed” might have been a slight make-up nomination.

Julianne Moore – Never in my life have I seen such a desperate character. All she wants is to love and be loved. She has a vacuum in her heart, and she tries to fill it with everything she possibly can. She is so amazing in the film – this is when I fell in love with her.

John C. Reilly – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Remember when he used to be a great actor?

William H. Macy – Another solid performance by one of the greatest character actors of the 1990’s.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman – The birth of an acting legend. It’s such a painful scene when Scottie professes his love to Dirk. It breaks what little is left of my heart.

Heather Graham – What happened to you? Your ass used to be beautiful.

Luis Guzman – This guy is almost as cool as Danny Trejo.

Don Cheadle – The scene that always sticks with me from the film is when he’s offered the chance to take that bag of bloody money during the botched robbery. Cheadle is covered in blood, his hands still in the air, everyone’s dead. Would you take that money?

Thomas Jane – In his small and vital role, he puts on a fucking clinic. What an amazing actor he is.

Alfred Molina – His part in the film is one of the most fucked up, stomach turning situations any character in film history has ever been in. That scene made me love “Sister Christian”.

Phillip Baker Hall – My AIM screen name all throughout high school was Floyd Gulondi (a misspelling of his last name in the film). That’s how much I loved his character.

Robert Ridgely – The Colonel…’nough said.

Robery Downey, Sr. – How fucking awesome for PTA to put RDS in his film. It’s so joyous to me when a younger filmmaker pays such a tribute to the filmmakers before him who inspired him. Rock on.

Ricky Jay – He’s awesome in everything he’s in. Way to get in with PTA and Mamet. I like his magic too.

Don’t you just love watching characters hitting rock bottom? I do. Watching the amazing cross cutting between Dirk Diggler jerking off for a guy in his truck for $10 – and watching Roller Girl (Heather Graham) getting nearly raped by a d-bag jock she went to high school with while Jack Horner sits and watches – Jesus Christ, it’s a lot to take in. Watching humans at their lowest form is such a humbling experience.

This film is very important to me.

This film is nothing less than poetic, marking the most poetic film that I have ever seen. All the characters are brought together in the beginning in a wonderful long shot – they’re all happy and living the disco dream – and in the end, they are all brought together once again in an incredibly amazing long shot – and once again, they’re happy, they are together. It just puts a smile on my face. God I love this film.

Rating: 10/10

PS: I bought this on Blu-Ray because I didn’t own the DVD and I thought that it would look really slick – you know the whole color schemes, the cinematography and what not. I did own the two disc special edition DVD when it came out WAY back in the day. It was the first film I ever watched with director’s commentary. While I was at college, I left it at my then girlfriend’s apartment. Needless to say we broke up after she flew to Ireland to have sex with this Italian pharmacist she met. No, I’m not making this up. It’s actually a pretty funny story now looking back, but when it was happening it was like a movie. But anyway she’s happily living in California working for the Producers Guild of America dating some rich guy and I’m still here in Chicago still paying off my credit card debt from that little deceptive twat. Anywho – I was disappointed with the Blu-Ray of “Boogie Nights”, I could tell that it was Blu-Ray but wasn’t that great. No need to make the jump for “Boogie Nights”.