The Hangover made over forty-five million dollars this weekend. Thatís astounding, especially for an unapologetic R-Rated comedy made for adults without Will Ferrell, Judd Apatow, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray or even a whiff of real star power. Thank God. Buoyed by great word of mouth, noticeably above-average reviews and an exhaustive internet marketing campaign, The Hangover stayed true to itself and proved women (47% of its audience) will support films without pertinent female characters. Yet even with all this success, even with the studio already ordering a sequel, poor Todd Phillips is being dogged by allegations his raunchy comedy somehow failed its female characters or at least refused to embrace them to the point the filmís overall quality ultimately suffered in the long run. But wouldnít more screen time for Rachel Harris and Heather Graham have betrayed and altered not only the filmís plot direction but the chemistry and group dynamic of its main characters?
Not only is The Hangoverís fundamental premise about a guyís night out, itís about a bachelor party, a retreat for men to go off by themselves to do coke and grind against the daughters of America. The fairer sex needs to be involved in this carousing, most definitely, but not women of respect, moral discipline or upstanding credibility. Thereís a time for the wife and a time for the whore, and for a raunch comedy to work, a really skuzzy, emotionally depraved, felony-ridden raunch comedy, the men need to be separated from women they care about so they can embrace their most juvenile, disgusting proclivities. This isnít to say women should be excluded from the debauchery. I love a woman who laughs at a funny sex story or participates in a case race, but the real seediness, the turn off the filter, take out the boner and roll up the hundred dollar bill absolute depravity has to take place without girls that matter. You never let the girl you love see you at your worst, and thatís the essence of a good raunch comedy. Men at their absolute worst. Their hilarious, selfish, horny, common sense-less worst.
The Hangover kept its women out of the fun, but hereís ten Classic Phil R-Rated raunch comedies which couldnít find the right balanceÖ
Noticeably superior to Broken Lizardís second best effort Club Dread, this bumbling cop comedy is hilarious primarily for its genial nature and banter between the state troopers, especially during an opening scene in which three stoners are nearly driven to madness by the inappropriate antics of two policemen more interested in amusing themselves than serving the public good. Unfortunately, the second half of the film slows down considerably with a convoluted plot and forced love story between Paul Soter and Marissa Coughlin. The fact the screenplay at one point asks us to actually sympathize with her and see her perspective is evidence of just how far the boys-will-be-boys comedy veered toward feelings town.
The Wedding Crashers
Sorry, Rachel McAdams. I loved you in Mean Girls, but youíre simply an insanely hot roadblock here, preventing the audience from laughing at John Beckwith and his fifty percent full of shit come-ons. At some point, a film needs to choose between balls-to-the-forehead, hysterical depravity and amusing charm with a heart. Wedding Crashers should have chosen the belly laughs at the expense of others it got in the first act, not the pull-its-punches romantic letdown it delivered the rest of the way. Watching Rachel McAdams ride a bike < Vince Vaughn eating the entire breakfast spread with extra syrup.
Seventy-five percent of this glorious tribute to obscenity, lesbianism and on-ice goonery is dick jokes, sex stories, Ralphieís mom from A Christmas Story taking her top off, savage violence, f-bombs, and putting on the foil. The rest is annoying, forgettable interactions between Paul Newman and either his soon-to-be ex-wife or Ned Bradenís wife. I can get behind the hilarious conversations of day drinking and the wild screams of every wife but Johnnyís after the defenseman whips his dick out at the fashion show, but all of the backstory and boo hoo my husbandís away bullshit is pointless space filling when the principal story arc is about the survival of a minor league hockey team. The Hanson Brothers may have brought their toys with íem on the road, but at least they donít have tag-along wives to ruin the pacing.
I get that Mitch isnít quite the unruly partier type like his friends, but if youíre going to introduce Meredith Grey into the fold, either make her a principal character and Old School itself a raunch love story or donít bother in the first place. I donít know how many scenes Ellen Pompeo is in, but I can tell you it is exactly the wrong number. Todd Phillips could have chosen any other number, and it would have been more correct. She just disappears for awhile and then pops up being all serious, parade-ruining and unfunny. Really, this side plot again? is what I say to my DVD copy when she just shows up out of nowhere.
Wait---why is Maggie pregnant? What the hell does this have to do with hatching plots of gopher murder and destroying Judge Smails' yacht? Caddyshack is essentially one giant non-sequitur. Rodney Dangerfield romps around throwing shtick at all the hoity-toity, upper class douche bags. Chevy Chase goes skinny dipping with a hot chick, imparting nuggets of wisdom on the caddies like a stoned Mr. Brady. Bill Murray talks out the side of his mouth and talks dirty to old women. It's all chaos, loosely tied together by a country club and themes of amoral irreverence. And then there's Maggie, talking about being pregnant, getting all serious on us, taking away deleted scenes which may or may have not been about the Llama.
The Big Lebowski
Considered by some to be too well written for raunch comedy classification, the Coen Brothersí masterwork is a rambling, guys night out flick with swearing, boobs and drug use, the holy trifecta of hard R-Rated laughers aimed at men. From pedophile bowlers to abusive Malibu Beach reactionaries, thereís no character too weird for Los Angeles Country circa Desert Storm--except maybe one, Julianne Mooreís Maude Lebowski who provides her share of humorless, uncomfortable moments as the daughter of the real Jeff Lebowski on the hunt for babies and rugs with sentimental value. Vagina, vagina, vagina, she screams, asking The Dude if the word makes him uncomfortable. It doesnít bother me so much as makes me miss Walter. Shut the fuck up, Donny. I miss you too.
Whether it be pounding shots with a Make-A-Wish kid the day of his operation or searching through drawers for Britney's mom's vibrator, Trey Parker and Matt Stone provide their standard social commentary thinly veiled behind abnormally large penis jokes and dozen egg night disasters here but, unlike the typical South Park episode, Baseketball runs out of gas when it gets all feelingsy with Yasmine Bleeth and asks Jenny McCarthy to be a comedienne. This movie needed more of the Unsolved Mysteries dude and less of Jenny McCarthy interacting with Ernest Borgnine.
To quote Sam Weir from Freaks And Geeks, You could not tell me what happened during the second half of (Stripes). Iíll tell you what happened: Bill Murray and Harold Ramis got all cozy with P.J. Soles and Sean Young. All the best parts of this film happen early on while the recruits get to know each other. No one cares about their secret mission in Italy or whether they all live happily ever after. Itís all about Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, John Candy and Judge Reinhold interacting stupidly and with a childish disdain for authority and the seriousness of others.
The only character outside Borat and Azamat weíre given multiple times, the hilarious faux-documentary educational film noticeably dips as Baron Cohen interacts with comedienne Luenell. Maybe itís because she wasnít just some sap producers conned into making a fool out of herself or maybe because she added in a little humanity which reigned in Boratís outlandishness, the film lost quite a bit of momentum during the coupleís night out together and would have been better served leaving her after the retarded Southern gentleman kicked the pair out.
I Love You, Man
A bit of an odd selection on the surface considering the whole point of I Love You, Man is for Paul Rudd to find a best man for his wedding, Rashida Jones is almost completely wasted here as the fiancee. If youíre going to hire talented actresses, use them. Otherwise embrace the masculinity and let your male characters bond without tiring in between shots of women saying nothing more than ďIím not sure I like that guyĒ for the soul purpose of moving forward the plot you initially committed to. This would have been a better movie without the wedding. Hell, it would have been a better movie without any of its women.