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Monday Movies: The Hangover

The Hangover is absolutely hilarious, far exceeding my expectations. I don’t intend to give a way any jokes in this post, but I may inadvertantly do so in the course of discussing what I think is an interesting formal problem for the movie. In a sense, The Hangover is a mystery film. The guys wake up severely hung over, with no recollection of what happened but with evidence of a truly wild night — and more importantly, their friend Doug is missing. The goal then becomes to decipher the evidence to figure out what actually happened so that they can find Doug.

The interesting thing is the way they graft the comedy element onto the mystery frame. The “clues” are the comedy gold of the movie, and the first half of the movie (roughly) still has them finding new ones and saying, “Oh fuck, how did that happen?!” The mystery structure demands that they unwind those clues to uncover the underlying reality — but that reality can never match up to the initial shock of seeing the evidence and imagining the infinite possibilities that attach to it.

They do their best to spice things up with new crazy characters, and they even leave some aspects of the night unaccounted for (showing that they at least understand the problem they’re dealing with) — but in essence, they were doing a movie that was structurally impossible to “pull off.” Whereas in a well-done straight mystery the solution is the really satisfying part, the particular combination of comedy and mystery that The Hangover attempts guarantees that the solution can only be a let-down.

Yet for all that, it’s still a hilarious movie and totally worth seeing.


June 8, 2009 - Posted by | Monday Movies


  1. I’m a bit tired of the whole “overgrown frat boys” genre, so I’ll probably pass on this one.

    Comment by strasmangelo jones | June 8, 2009

  2. I’ve been looking forward to it ever since the commercial with the scene where the baby is smashed into the car door.

    Comment by Craig | June 8, 2009

  3. There is an even better scene w/ the baby. Oh man … I’m giggling at it all over again.

    Comment by Brad | June 8, 2009

  4. Surely stras was always already tired of the “overgrown frat boys” genre.

    Comment by ben | June 8, 2009

  5. It’s true, even as a six-year-old I was rejecting the misogynistic locker room bromance of Pee Wee’s Playhouse.

    Comment by strasmangelo jones | June 8, 2009

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