Jun 09

The Alka-Seltzer

Do You See + FT4 comments • 257 views

This summers hit comedy, The Hangover, is one big lie. Firstly, as hit comedies go, its not all that funny. For a shaggy dog stringing along of vaguely absurd scenarios it has a paucity of imagination about how absurd it can get. Whilst pitching as the height of madness the kidnapping of a tiger is pleasantly odd, having a shotgun wedding in Vegas is screenwriter 101. But for all of that it has a pleasing structure, which masks the loathsomeness of its protagonists which also provides needed momentum for the flick. But its odd when in a big comedy you exit with admiration for its structure over its actual gags.

So the structure. Three semi-friends take their mutual BFF to Vegas for a last minute stag night (the type no-one ever has anymore, and this film will continue to have banned). The three friends wake up the next morning with the titular Hangover, memory loss and having misplaced the stag – also with a baby, tigers and some chickens to hand. The film turns into a mystery, as they piece together their movements the night before to try and find their friend before the wedding is spoiled. Cleverly this allows a smoky view on excessive drunken antics (stealing police cars, marrying strippers) which would have been intolerable if we had actually seen them happen. The film is instead about solving the problem on a hunt around Vegas for their fourth musketeer.

Except they are supposed to be heroically hungover. Even before we discover that the memory loss is due to drugs not drink, we are made well aware that the four men have drunk near their body weight in bouze. And yet, with such an amazing hangover, they manage to have a days worth of adventures without the DT’s, and looking pretty perky. I don’t as a rule get hangovers, but when I do, darkened rooms are the only option, with lots and lots of water. They don’t even down any ginger beer, let alone take any alka seltzer. So the suggestion is that the best cure for a hangover is abject fear of your friends fiancée.


  1. 1
    Martin on 25 Jun 2009 #

    I’m all for a little skepticism, but I fail to see how a trio of unenergetic protagonists who cannot tolerate noise or activity would have improved the movie. Credibility has its uses, but you picked a bad instance to cling to.

  2. 2
    Pete on 25 Jun 2009 #

    Point taken. I just think its a bit irresponsible for them to represent a hangover as a fun, wacky, caper filled time, rather than a banging headache, constant nausea and the contents of Allied Carpets in your mouth!

  3. 3
    Jonathan Bogart on 25 Jun 2009 #

    I don’t think it’s particularly irresponsible, at least no more so than the endless stoner comedies which represent pot as a fuel for wacky times rather than sitting on the couch staring. I have the impression that the vast majority of the target audience has at least passing familiarity with actual hangovers, and isn’t hoping to see them replicated on screen.

  4. 4
    Pete on 26 Jun 2009 #

    OK, perhaps not irresponsible (though suggesting that you can learn to card count and make a killing at vegas easily WHILST Hungover may tip into that area). How about the issue then that actually this is a film less about a Hangover and more about a Stag Night in Vegas, and thus has the wrong title. Though What Happens In Vegas, and indeed Batchelor Party, were unavailable as titles I guess. (And at least it doesn’t have the plot that that stag discovers his intended is a control freak and decides not to marry her – that plot is used for one of the other friends).

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