The Hangover Part III Directed by: Todd Phillips Written by: Todd Phillips & Craig Mazin (screenplay), Jon Lucas & Scott Moore (characters) Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Ken Jeong
Is there any point in trying to look at The HangoverPart III as anything but a petulant piece of filth? Of course the answer is no, but in a franchise built on uncompromising filth, that isn’t necessarily all bad. Make no mistake, though: this is a very bad movie. The story abandons the “What did we do last night?!” set up of the first two installments, and apparently can’t survive without it.
There are scenes of abduction and violence conducted with small crowds of people looking on in the background of the shots. Several characters are shot and killed and the every men at the center of the story are hardly affected. And yet, there is a kind of demented charm to this final installment as we get a sense that director Todd Phillips is almost daring us to try and make sense of a series built on sacrificing coherence for gross-out. With the aid of his three main stars, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis, and a slew of others, he has created a movie that exists as a series of gags barely connected by anything other than familiar faces.
Immersion is the essence of cinema. Nobody famous or important that I know of said that, but someone probably said something similar at one point. I’m not even going to Google it; that’s how confident I am. But there’s truth to it— a movie can be as much about its setting as it can be about its story. Engaging the audience’s senses by building a relationship between the story elements and the setting is an undervalued art achieved by only masterful art directors and storytellers. Think of how cleverly and subtly Tim Burton exploits the Florida suburbs in Edward Scissorhands to provide thematic contrast for his character or how carefully Ben Affleck pans the Boston sky for his cop and crime dramas.
The relationship works both ways. Their stories and styles also influence the way we perceive places we haven’t yet been, or places we visit. Imagine going to the Empire State Building without thinking of scenes from King Kong or Spiderman. The Twilight series may be unbearable, but look what its done to romanticize our image of the Pacific Northwest and boost tourism in the region. Our idea of the Vegas strip wouldn’t be the same without great casino films like these.
This has been my personal introduction to our newest series: On location. In this series we will pick an iconic place and look at the movies that shaped our idea of that place as well as how the movie portraits the setting. First up: sin city.
The HangoverPart II Directed by: Todd Phillips Written by: Craig Mazin, Scot Armstrong, & Todd Phillips (screenplay) Starring: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, and Justin Bartha
I swear I wrote this review a few days ago, but here goes nothing. The Wolf Pack packs up for another wedding, this time Stu’s (Ed Helms), and go on another drunken rage, this time in Bangkok, Thailand.
If you thought their masculinity was under fire in the first installment, wait until you get a whiff of transvestite prostitutes and staff wielding monks. They are strangers in a strange land, and xenophobia set in long before the plane landed.
The Hangover Directed by: Todd Phillips Written by: Jon Lucas & Scott Moore (screenplay) Starring: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, and Justin Bartha
When you’re watching comedy, it’s interesting to pause for a moment and examine why a joke was intended to be funny. What is the target of the joke, and who is it aimed at? In mainstream Hollywood’s comedy, more often than not, you’ll find that answer to be pretty simple: masculinity is the target, and men are obviously the intended recipients as well as the writers, directors, and stars.
Rarely has this been more apparent than in Todd Phillips’ The Hangover, a runaway box office success and a raunchy male fantasy with a nasty aftertaste. It takes that guy party in Vegas idea that zips through many films (Knocked Up is a recent example) and instead of devoting maybe 15 or so minutes, builds an entire movie out of it.
The surprising success and appreciation — the backlash, however, wasn’t a surprise — for our first “Spotlight” series to shine the blacklight on and expose the unimpressive marks of the overrated and overpaid Jenifer Aniston did not go unnoticed. Though with love and a fan base, she has far more charms than Bradley Cooper, who only has hair that doesn’t even compare to Aniston’s or the new Gaga track. So in this post, he won’t be spared to find five “at least they aren’t that bad films” — mostly because there aren’t any — but to give his most cringe-worthy performances celebrated before he rakes in his Hangover 2 Memorial Day weekend dough. Continue reading →
Bridesmaids Directed by: Paul Feig Written by: Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig (screenplay) Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, and Melissa McCarthy
Behold something new in Bridesmaids. It’s possible that such an innovation, which is buried beneath a mound of plot cliches and character types, will go unnoticed by the masses. It is simply this: Bridesmaids takes pieces of the old genres and makes them new. It is the successful merging of the male-targeted buddy comedy with the female-targeted romantic comedy.
When two genres merge, the film either tends to lean hard on one element or another, but Bridesmaids carefully walks the tightrope between both in an effective, hilarious mix.
When there are hundreds of movies made every year, patterns start to show up. Whether it’s the characters or the ending, there isn’t much in the way of originality in the movies. This is especially true with characters, whose archetypes have been mixed and matched since Hollywood’s inception. As time progressed, new characters have emerged, and been implemented and overused just like the old stereotypes before them. Here is a list of movie characters we’ve seen time and again the past few years, and that we’ll probably continue to see for many more to come.
Manic Pixie Dream Girl- Realizing your dreams and fulfilling your potential is one of the most common goals of movie protagonists. Young male independent writers/directors like to do this with the help of a leading lady. At first, these characters almost demand to be recognized as free spirits, but as soon as love and narrative momentum chains them down, they become muses whose only purpose is to help the main character fulfill their own potential while they are left unfulfilled. The phrase was first coined by critic Nathan Rabin, who used the term in his review of Elizabethtown. Find them in: Garden State (Natalie Portman), (500) Days of Summer (Zooey Deschanel), Almost Famous (Kate Hudson) and Elizabethtown (Kirsten Dunst)
Just one year ago Hollywood was partying like it was 2009. For second or third straight summer in a row, studios were rolling out films that pleased audiences, critics and their pocketbook alike, which is an extremely rare feat for the industry to do these days. In 2008, Wall-E, Iron Man, and The Dark Knight topped the box office (with The Dark Knight tumbling new records) and were garnering staggering reviews, then received a slew of Oscar nominations down the road. All were happy.
The year 2009 followed suit. Transformers 2 opened to be the largest grossing movie of the summer, crossing the $400 million mark even if it did get annihilated by critics. Up, Star Trek, The Hangover, The Proposal and more had taken box office expectations and blew them away into becoming monster blockbusters. All were reviewed above fair, many dominated come awards season. Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker had just been released. The State of the Box Office was in the best shape ever, and 2009 would go on to gross over $10 billion, a new record.
The always engaging Manohla Dargis of the New York Times recently wrote a brilliant article about what Kathryn Bigelow’s Best Director win at the Oscars means. Dargis’ thorough, bullet-proof essay concludes that women in film are probed about their personal life more than men as well as “ghettoized in romantic comedy.”
This got me thinking about some of those recent movies, both romantic and comical, and just how they view women. Let’s take a look at two of 2009’s biggest films: The Hangover and The Twilight Saga: New Moon.
At a glance, these films may appear to have absolutely nothing in common. On closer analysis though, they both share some kind of anti-feminist philosophy. The Hangoveroperates under the philosophy that women are either a nuisance, or just total bitches, while New Moontreats its female “heroine” like a junkie looking for a testosterone fix.