Monday, June 8th, 2009

Flicked Off: "The Hangover"

Flicked OffAn average babyI saw The Hangover among its target demo. This was in Murray Hill, last night, a Sunday, and it was 9 p.m. and that stadium was sold out. I was older by at least a decade than everyone there, and I am not exaggerating. What struck me the most were their clothes. The men, in particular, seemed not even dressed, in their baggy, below-the-knee silvery gym clothing, and synthetic t-shirts and cheap flip-flops from China. These were clothes that were worn without any intention; these were the clothes they wore when they did not have to wear clothes. They were ugly and thoughtless. These are what the men wear when they are not wearing blue button-down shirts, which they are wearing today in their offices, for those who are not sitting at home, watching their button-down shirts droop and grow dusty.

Watching all these young people in line reminded me of something in Neal Stephenson's Anathem. In that enormous scifi book, the young narrator, who has lived cloistered for much of his life, finally ventures into the outside world, which looks in many ways like our real world here. He finds that with the social structure of the capitalist working world, where people are divorced from the fruits of their endeavors and labor, it's not so much that they suffer economically, or suffer intellectually, though these of course can happen, but that they suffer due to lack of "story."

How much story do you get to have in your tamed life, when you are doing the opposite of hunting buffalo on the plains, say, when you are sitting in an office for eight hours a day, with no interest or input in the corporate super-structures whose machinations control your working life?

And so movies like The Hangover, which is about four men having an outlandish adventure, just seem so obviously constructed to give people with little narrative in their lives some huge outsize narrative. Nothing this exciting will ever happen to the audience.

The movie opens with scenery of a wedding being assembled. There are white flowers. "So pretty," said the girl behind me.

There is a shot of a wedding dress. "So pretty," said the girl behind me.

Later in the film, there appears a very young baby. "So cuuuute," said the girl behind me.

Who was that girl? I could not bear to look behind me. She was clearly either unbelievably stupid, or so deep in thrall to her uterus, that, either way, I wonder how she can put on shoes in the morning. Except she needs the shoes to find the man, to have the wedding, to have that baby, that baby that is just so cute, which actually really has nothing to do with the movie, and in fact the baby was not that cute.

It was just a baby. It was a generic white baby. It was mostly a joke prop baby, and I laughed when the men in the movie abused the baby.

There are a number of other things that are important about this movie-such as that bearded chunky weirdo comedian Zack Galifianakis is really amazingly weird and funny in it, and that there is an arch-villain who is the most delightful mash-up of stereotypes, so much so that it actually frightened and/or confused this audience, I think. It was really beyond. But mostly I am thinking about that girl, and what she is doing now, and whose advertising account she is working on, or what yoga class she is taking, or whose baby she is about to steal.

57 Comments / Post A Comment

sigerson (#179)

misogynist much?

shaved_ape (#728)

I am a simple man, and therefore do not understand what you mean. However, I would like to learn more. Please explain in greater detail!

LolCait (#460)


Slava (#216)

To be fair, the movie IS fairly sexist. But so is the whole concept of 'batchelor parties'. And 'Vegas'.

Rod T (#33)

True. If it were a gay boy saying the same things, he probably would have turned around and doused him with his (undoubtedly diet) tub of soda.

You know, for all I know, the girl behind me was Ariel Levy or something! Perhaps it was BETTY FRIEDAN!

Abe Sauer (#148)

Maybe it was Pauline Kael's granddaughter.

Maybe she was a fat chick and the baby was making her hungry.

Banal much? Calling a woman stupid doesn't equal misogyny.

"We are the hollow men/
We are the stuffed men/
Leaning together/
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!"

wiilliiaamm (#225)


GiovanniGF (#224)

Such a cute post!

BlinkyMcChuck (#202)

I miss the days when people really wore clothes.

zidaane (#373)

Does she have a recipie blog?

Urbania (#94)

OH, this is why you called it The Awl.

KarenUhOh (#19)

My existential schism occurred when I was told to Fubu instead of Zuba.

HelloTitty (#830)

That girl *will* marry one day, but unfortunately she will never birth a child because girls like that marry men who wear baggy, below-the-knee silvery gym clothing, and synthetic t-shirts and cheap flip-flops from China and all those guys want is anal.

Slava (#216)

Can I just point out that I love you guys for bringing Anathem into all of this

Dickdogfood (#650)

In my bleakest moments, I am more inclined to think an America filled with people chock full of story would likely be a nation of Jim Morrisons–not a nation of, say, Mike Finks or Steve Brodies.

I was really underwhelmed by this movie. Everyone around me was laughing hysterically.

Conor (#35)


Oh there will be. But I'm only halfway!

hazmathilda (#839)

Ahh! Be prepared for the second half of the book, which will turn upside down what you thought of the book during the first half! In a decent way, I thought.

Girls like that are why I avoid going to the movie theater. Because people don't know how to fucking act in public.

I'll still go see this movie. But maybe I'll see it in Harlem or something.

Because you like to talk to the screen?

cherrispryte (#444)

Funny, girls like that are why I avoid most social interactions.

gregorg (#30)

was there a disclaimer at the end saying that no actual vintage Mercedes convertibles were harmed in the making of this film?

please say yes.

Also I thought they were really mean to the chicken!!!

podger (#512)

OK, so you hate twenty-something post-frat types. But what about the movie?

so beside the point

It's dumb. If that appeals to your sense of humor you will like it.

CrappyEditor (#377)

This was the most amazing, insightful article I have ready yet on The Awl. Seriously, my favorite. Every second was amazing. Have to read Anathem.

CrappyEditor (#377)

*I have read yet.

CrappyEditor (#377)

And now if you'll please excuse me, I need to put on my Add 1 basketball shorts, Adidas basketball sneakers and cry to my advertising client. *sigh*

P.S. Can't wait to see The Hangover tomorrow night after work. Would go tonight, but the series premiere of Weeds is on.

As a 35-something WASPtron who only wears J Press flip-flops (and even then only in the shower) I assumed I was the target demo.

Because it has Zach Galifanakis.

He was the biggest disappointment for me. He rendered a very pale John Belushi imitation. Was he always that fat or has he put on 50 lbs recently?

And Bradley Cooper is not a likable enough actor to pull off his character.

so…. i haven't seen the movie, but from the ubiquitous promos/trailers, two thoughts have taken shape and emerged from the mists of my mind:

1.) ed helms is much less annoying and more versatile than i would have thought, having only seen him as andy bernard on the office.
2.) the bradley cooper of today creeps me out more than i ever would have thought back when i watched him on alias. he's much faker and less versatile than i would have thought.

CrappyEditor (#377)

Eww. 35 seems so old.

whowhahuh (#57)

Overthinking this much? I suppose no one here ever enjoyed something silly? Misogynist? As much as The King of Queens and what that Belushi brother is on, makes men look like mildly retarded special Olympians.

Of course the movie is dumb, it's supposed to be.

I too like Anathem, I liked this movie. Also, those idiots in synthetic clothing are not any of the post frat-boy types I know. We wear boat shoes sans socks, khaki's and untucked polos with rolled up sleeves on the weekends.

You may now, bring it.
Thanks for your support

SeaBassTian (#281)

Forget about film criticism, start a Choire book club. There are already many mediocre movie reviews on-line but not enough legitimate literary recommendations.

GiovanniGF (#224)

Pleeeeeeease The Awl, let me do the book club! I neither wear synthetic clothing nor untucked polos with rolled up sleeves, and will NEVER ever suggest you read Chuck Palaniuk! Plus I might read Emily Gould's book when it comes out.

CrappyEditor (#377)

Eww. 35 seems so old.

Hez (#147)


space2k (#844)

Sanctimonious bullshit and sandwiched between TWO ads for "Paul Blart – Mall Cop". "15 More Minutes of Fart Jokes!"

Shooting. Fish. In. A. Barrel. Please alert me when someone witty starts up a website that takes it for granted that Murray Hill breeders are dull, and that has zero interest in disecting what movies Murray Hill breeders like to see and what restaurants they like to shout at each other in and what bars they like to puke outside of and what sort of novelty books they give to their equally-dull acquaintances. New York magazine already has all that stuff covered and for me it doesn't matter in terms of humorousness that their self-parodying is lacking self-awareness.

Nic (#853)

I just saw it wearing Prada and laughed my dick off. Does that improve the movie any? Two Russian girls behind us were talking the whole time, but since I don't understand Russian it didn't distract me. And they were much too young and hot to care about weddings and babies.

I'm sure you could make a much better movie, for much better people, if you weren't so darn busy blogging, right?

you know the ad presently affixed to this post is for "Paul Blart Mall Cop", boasting "15 more minutes of fart jokes!", right? Just saying.

Hobbesian (#255)

Probably the theater-goer in question:

sac (#880)

From CHINA!? They wore flip-flops from CHINA!? Holy fuck, how did you get out ALIVE!? I hope you were encased in your sanctimonious asshole shark cage, beating the unwashed off with rolled up copies of Wallpaper. Maybe some STYLE and some CLASS rubbed off on them along with the ink.

And that girl. Ugh. She wants to have a traditional wedding and have kids. How pedestrian. Why can't she have, like, a pirate-themed wedding or something, that would be cool, and then hold off on having kids until she's into her 40s and then freak the fuck out about autism. That's way cooler.

berkleebassist (#2,638)

So I realize I'm way late to the game, but found this post via Best New Blogs of 2009, and this is, by far, my favorite comment.

“sanctimonious asshole shark cage” â€" awesome.

nougatmachine (#2,648)

I must agree with you, berkleebassist. sac's comment is the redeemer of my time spent here. Andrew Womack uses *this* as an example of why this should be considered one of the best new blogs of this year? ….oy.

berkleebassist (#2,638)

Only one of a few examples; he uses this as an example of the awesome movie reviews here at The Awl.

sac (#880)

NOTE: I have not seen the movie in question, mostly out of facial-hair envy.

caw_caw (#5,641)

I have come back to this review so many times and given the link to so many people over the past year. It was really wonderful and valuable for me to read, and I found it an unexpectedly powerful and long-lasting bit of writing.

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