June 5, 2009
Reviews of The Hangover
So The Hangover looks pretty hilarious. The Times did a sweetly admiring profile of director Todd Phillips last week (in which he quotes Mike Tyson during the shoot as saying, bizarrely, "Oh, man, this is great. I’m getting taught to punch by the captain of the Jewish debating team.") And the cast is great.
So I was surprised to see A.O. Scott's review in the Times, which is so dripping with contempt for the movie's adoration of its man-child characters and barely concealed sexism that, as my friend T-Rock said, you have to check to make sure it wasn't written by Manohla Dargis. He acknowledges that the movie is funny, but says that you'll probably end up feeling bad about yourself if you laugh, because of all the immature jokes and racism and sexism. It's funny, but it's wrong.
But Roger Ebert's review? Three and a half stars!
Here's what I love about Roger Ebert: he would never criticize a horror movie just for being too violent. He would never criticize a romantic movie just for being too sentimental. And he would never criticize a movie about a bunch of doofusy guys having a wild bachelor party in Las Vegas just for being too ridiculous and immature. From his review:
Here is a movie that deserves every letter of its R rating. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, especially after you throw up.
I'm not sure what to make of this. Either Roger Ebert is secretly a sexist fratty jerk or for once he's a little bit savvier about how genre movies work than A.O. Scott.
UPDATE: I saw the movie. It was very immature and ridiculous, and I laughed a lot (though maybe not quite as much as Roger Ebert did) and didn't feel wrong or like a bad person about it. Also, the director totally used the same inappropriate song at a formal event joke as he did in Starsky & Hutch, where the band at a girl's bat mitzvah played "Feel Like Makin' Love".
Yeah, the characters are man-children, and they follow completely predictable development arcs where the wimpy one grows a pair, the jackassy one gets a little bit nicer, and the weird one with no pants sort of gets his act together (but still doesn't have any pants.) The women are one-dimensional fantasy plot devices, but not any more so than most male characters are in ridiculous movies for women like Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood or The Holiday.
For what it is, The Hangover is good. And it looks like the public is on Ebert's side: even sort of late on a Sunday night, the theater was full, and those people ate every infantile joke up.
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