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November 04, 2010


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Kent Jones

Man, I know SO many people - intelligent people - who thought that THE HANGOVER was not just a real movie but a good real movie, and not just a good real movie but a WELL-DIRECTED good real movie. I suffered through every SECOND of it, and the suffering became acute whenever Zach Whateverakis was onscreen. So the idea that there's even more of him in this one and that it's directed (sort of) by the same guy is not exactly an incentive. Now your review has come along and tamped out whatever meager desire I had to see this one. It was the plot summary that really got me.

Congratulations on the MSN title. Well-deserved.

Robert Hunt

The combination of the star and the director of my two least favorite movies of 2009 (I love Robert Downey Jr, but he's still got a long way to go to make up for "Sherlock Holmes") are enough to keep me from seeing this. The comparisons to "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" only add to my lack of interest. (When exactly did John Hughes start to get taken seriously?)

Dan Coyle

Well, The Jerry O'Connell epic Tomcats had not only a losing testicle scene, but said testicle bounced- yes, bounced- into someone's food and the person eating wasn't looking at his plate and...


The six words that would keep me from a Downey movie: "From the Director of THE HANGOVER."

And what is the deal with Galifianakis? How does such an utterly untalented, supremely annoying lout keep working so constantly?


Glenn, what's this business about Downey's character punching a young boy "in the stomach so hard that the child doubles over," that Manohla Dargis cites in her Times review? Her description of this -- even given the strangely elaborate context she gives it -- is enough to put me off this thing forever.

Glenn Kenny

But Griff, that was one of Jeff Wells' favorite parts! Yes, that's in there, and the justification for it is that the kid was kind of "asking" for it...and he is after all the child of DRUG DEALERS...and he does seem to learn a lesson from it...blah, blah, blah. Yes, it's pretty hateful, and entirely emblematic of the "we are going to GO THERE but then we're going to TAKE IT BACK" "humor" of the entire enterprise. I didn't put it in my review for space reasons; I figured the stuff I did describe was sufficient to buttress my thesis. But...yeah. And Dargis is spot-on about the film's fucked-up double standard, which flew straight over the heads of some of the dumber reviewers (and I'm biting my tongue hard so as not to name at least one of them).

Hollis Lime

Galifinakis is actually quite a good stand-up (and a great physical performer in an art where posture and movement is paramount). Hasn't really been in a good movie, alas.


THE HANGOVER is, indeed, not a great movie. It's an amiably demented farce that plays like a neutered version of VERY BAD THINGS. I got a few good laughs out of it, and I do think Phillips at least tried to give it some cinematic interest with visual homages to notable Vegas-set films. If it hadn't made a gazillion dollars, this is perhaps what most people would be saying about it. Except of course that far fewer people would have actually seen it. The extreme success of a film begets more success, drawing all those who have to see what the fuss is about, regardless of whether it's the type of film they normally enjoy. Shockingly, people who loathe this style of comedy weren't swayed by its success. No biggie. The comedy, she is subjective, no?

All that said: Dan, TOMCATS is maybe the worst movie I ever paid money to see.

Jeff McMahon

Wow, cranky-fest in here. Will I be banished if I say that not only did I laugh at many parts of The Hangover, but also that I enjoy Galifianakis as a performer, I didn't hate Sherlock Holmes, and I think Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a near-masterpiece?


Wells has possibly the worst taste of any critic who thinks he has taste. This looks like another version of OW MY BALLS! And PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES is a comedy classic compared to a lot of today's fare. Plus, John Candy. Come on.

Kent Jones

Jbryant, I have no objection to the "style of comedy" on display in THE HANGOVER. I don't care how much or how little money a movie has made. I loved every minute of YEAR ONE and would happily watch it again, and I loved watching Steve Carrell and Tina Fey in DATE NIGHT. I just thought that THE HANGOVER was a bad movie, for a very simple reason: timing, or the lack thereof.

Frank McDevitt

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles IS a damn comedy classic. Yeesh. Also the Galifianakis hate is fucking baffling. Have any of the Galifianakis detractors seen his stand up?


I haven't seen PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES, but I have great affection for SHE'S HAVING A BABY, which I saw for the first time this summer. John Hughes certainly had some talent, and he also had something very personal to express in SHE'S HAVING A BABY. I don't know about this guy Todd Phillips, and I'm not sure I want to know...

Dan Coyle

jbryant: Indeed, Tomcats is a frighteningly awful piece of shit that in a just world would have killed the careers of everyone involved, despite the fact that with the right material, Jerry O'Connell can be a very engaging, reliable performer.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, as mawkish and cliche as it can be at times, is bouyed by the terrific performances Hughes gets out of Candy and Martin (I find Martin more realistic here as a harried dad than in either of the overpraised Father of the Bride movies). And the ending is still probably my favorite Hughes moment out of the entire oveure.

Don't know if I wanna see Due Date, but I have liked Galfanakis on Bored to Death (One of the funniest shows on TV) and hey, when I met the guy on the BTD set doing extra work, he was a pretty cool dude.

Kent Jones

I've never seen Zach Galfianakis' stand-up. I should take a look. I have no memory of him in anything else, even in stuff I've seen. But I thought that the problem with THE HANGOVER started behind the camera.

James Keepnews

What's not to love about Zach G., his film choices notwithstanding? Aside from his brilliant (if, by now, somewhat played) "Between Two Ferns" interviews, I think his best work may have been done with his fellow traveling subversives, Tim and Eric. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Tairy Greene teaches acting to children: http://video.adultswim.com/tim-and-eric-awesome-show-great-job/tairy-greenes-acting-seminar-for-children.html


Since when have either of Martin's 'Father of the Bride' remakes -- or indeed most any of Martin's 90s/00s vehicles -- been praised, let alone "overpraised"?


"When exactly did John Hughes start to get taken seriously?"

By people who recognize that he made some superb films, PT&A among 'em? Or by some other folk, slower on the uptake, later? But I'm guessing this is a rhetorical question.

I really didn't want to like 'The Hangover'. It obviously has huge problems. It isn't much of a film. But Zach G is funny in it. The 'blood brothers' scene -- funny.


Kent: I didn't mean for my highly unscientific "theory" to preclude the notion that someone (in fact, a lot of someones) could loathe THE HANGOVER for any number of well-considered reasons. I'm just always kind of fascinated by the split we often see between those who "discover" a blockbuster film early on and those who come to it later, drawn by curiosity about its mega-success. I know it's a banal observation, and it's impossible to quantify, really. But I can't help but wonder if THE HANGOVER, which I found fairly amusing on its opening weekend, would have fallen flat if I'd seen it late in the run or on DVD or cable, thinking "Okay, most successful comedy in recent memory -- make me laugh!" A reverse example for me would be BEVERLY HILLS COP, which underwhelmed me in a near-empty screening its last week in theaters but played beautifully a few years later on video in a dorm room full of appreciative guys, most of whom had probably already enjoyed it numerous times.

The much-maligned YEAR ONE may also be a reverse example. I've been meaning to see it (thanks for the reminder), partly because it's astonishing how good a supposed failure can look after all the first-release brouhaha is gone and forgotten.

Not saying any of this applies to you, or your experience with THE HANGOVER, of course.

Victor Morton

You know what that still put me in mind of -- Giamatti and Wilkinson fighting on the tarmac in slo-mo in DUPLICITY. Any still of two men (other than trained fighters) wrestling about inevitably makes them look kinda silly.

Kent Jones

jbryant, maybe I love Jack Black too much, but we've seen YEAR ONE more than once, has me gasping with laughter every time.

As someone who lived through the John Hughes phenomenon, I would flip the question and wonder: when was he NOT taken seriously? As I remember it, absolutely everyone loved SIXTEEN CANDLES, and even those who felt a little out of step with the subsequent movies still recognized that he had struck a generational chord. I think SHE'S HAVING A BABY was sort held back for a while - I don't remember why - and was received decently when it finally came out. I liked PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES. Most people did, I think. A deathless classic? Compared to THE HANGOVER, I suppose.


"When was [John Hughes] NOT taken seriously?"

The day 'Curly Sue' opened.

Victor Morton


My memory of the 80s (admittedly I only began paying attention to movies nearer the end of the decade) was that Hughes was only taken semi-seriously, largely because he worked in a genre perceived as inferior and made commercial successes within that genre. In this sense only, he resembles Hitchcock -- whom the Anglo-American world largely dismissed on similar terms until the early 60s. While Hughes' teen films were seen (and self-evidently so) as considerably better than the general run of Horny Teen and Dead Teen films of the early 80s, they were not terribly critically admired in an Oscars / Siskel and Ebert 10 Best / NYFCC / Village Voice poll sense.

Kent Jones

"In this sense only, he resembles Hitchcock..." Yeah - in that sense only.


Victor, Pauline Kael gave a highly favorable review to 16 CANDLES, and Ebert praised THE BREAKFAST CLUB and FERRIS BUELLER. Plus, Molly Ringwald ended up on the cover of TIME, so Hughes, while not oscar-bait, had some media supporters. And watch Alec Valdwin's debut in SHE'S HAVING A BABY -- he's great, and almost in a different, darker film.

Dan Coyle

Whoa whoa whoa.

Back up a second.

Pauline Kael actually LIKED a movie?

Kent Jones

Andew Sarris was also a big fan of SIXTEEN CANDLES, PRETTY IN PINK and, I seem to remember, SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL.


Dan, are you familiar with her work? She liked a lot of movies, and just recently re-read her 80's output, with raves for such films as ROXANNE and BLUE VELVET among others. She LOVES movies. Maybe you're thinking of John Simon?

Victor Morton

I'm not saying Hughes didn't get some good reviews or his films weren't acknowledged as a cut above other teen flicks, but that he got few rapturous reviews and never received the great-auteur treatment or win many awards (the latter fact is virtually incontestible -- http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000455/awards).

For example, Ebert's reviews of BREAKFAST CLUB and FERRIS BUELLER were 3-star reviews (same for 16 CANDLES and PRETTY IN PINK). And even though he wrote a "Great Movies" column about it later, he only gave PLANES TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES 3.5 stars at the time -- far as I know, he never gave a Hughes film 4 stars.

I think it's more the fact of the generational wheel turning. People raised on John Hughes, who saw his films as teens or kids, are now likely to be in positions of critical prominence.


I had mixed feelings about Hughes back in the day, but is there really any quantifiable differences between 3.5 stars and 4 stars? That still sounds like an Ebert thumbs-up;]

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