Another Hangover With Chicks
Here we have another film trying to cash in on the success of ‘the Hangover’ by swapping the gender. The other film is of course ‘Bridesmaids’ which, you desperately hoped for the cathartic laugh and never got. This film has a few cutting funny moments, but then loses steam as it meanders through tedium to a really flt climax.
What’s Good About It
There are some really funny lines in it. The set up is pacey and gets you into the action quick. The blow job joke in the plane is pretty good. Some good character moments come and go. You want more but you don’t get them.
What’s Bad About It
The film is pretty irresolute about how gross-out it wants to go. There’s the obligatory vomit moment, and rubbing the stripper’s crotch with a wedding dress moment but generally it stays pretty tame. The script, in its minutiae, has a lot to answer for. It’s singularly lacking in insight and always goes for arch comment or the put down to get out of a scene. It only seems to work half the time.
The 3 main characters are not terribly attractive as human beings. They look better than they behave and they do behave appallingly but so little of it gets a good laugh. the worst of the lot is Isla Fischer’s Katie, who you cannot imagine functioning properly in society at all so you don’t believe for a moment. it’s not the performance that’s the problem, it’s the writing. Similarly with Kirsten Dunst’s Regan, you almost get an insight into the mean girl but at the end of the film she’s just a mean girl with a condescending appreciation for her friends. Again, it’s not the performance, it’s the writing.
So much of the story seems to revolve around Lizzy Caplan’s Gena trying to recapture her long lost love, which is probably authorial fantasy more than good plotting. It’s a shame because the actors are putting in decent performances to animate these corpses of characters. Rebel Wilson is particularly good as the maligned Becky who marries first in the quartet.
What’s Interesting About It
I have to admit, I do wonder how things look from the girls’ dugout of the mating ritual playing field. There are so many areas of hypocrisy in our society that it must be like a minefield for the women who have to navigate the mess, so films like this and Bridesmaid offer a glimmer of hope in understanding what the hell is the pressing issue.
The most frightening character might be Regan who is living the form without understanding the function. She’s doing everything right, she tells us, but somehow it doesn’t work out right. Then we see her screaming and yelling at other people in order to get them to do what she wants them to do. The unpleasantness of the character leave you thinking that she makes herself unhappy so that she can inflict the anger on as many people as possible.
Maybe the point of the film is that personality disorder is everywhere and there is no point in trying to make sense of people’s atrocious behaviour. Or maybe the author has a very distorted view of the world and the people that inhabit it.
Anyway. The thing that stands out about this film is that girls clearly don’t have as much fun as the guys on their Bachelorette Nights. The stripper that turns up to do the ‘Magic Mike’ noise cop routine gets cut off by indignation. Apart from the incessant drug taking that characterises act 1, and some really abortive sex, the principal girls have a lot less fun the guys of ‘The Hangover’. Society’s hypocrisy is deeply ingrained. Regan’s sexual encounter with Travis is punctuated by abusive name-calling and taking a phone call, pretending nothing is going on. Hypocrisy rules, but they don’t know why.
The film even goes some way to explore this problem with Katie’s failure to connect with Joe, and subsequent suicide attempt – which gets glossed over the next day with a bit of vomiting – which also suggests that the drama queen thing and the excessive drug taking and the rampant irresponsibility is Katie’s personality disorder.
The film also has a very complicated relationship with strippers. On the one hand, the film goes some way to affirm them as characters and people, but once they are out of the strip club, strippers become objects of contempt. The constant need to assert the up and down in relationship demands that somebody be at the bottom of the social totempole and in this film, it is ruthlessly assigned to strippers. This is in stark contrast to ‘The Hangover’ where Las Vegas becomes a field of no hierarchy, a true anarchy of values; in this film, the girls just won’t let go of social hierarchy in fear of losing something in that exchange.
The thing is, humiliation is the essence of comedy. Somebody’s got to be humiliated for there to be a laugh. The girls in this film just won’t come at that, and I think the writer is being too easy on these characters for it to be genuinely funny.