An intoxicated state-of-mind often reacts positively to such banality as a tazer gun shot to the crotch or a used condom being tossed around the car like a hot potato, and because the American mind on leisure time is frequently of that type, it's no surprise that The Hangover has been such a R-rated boobs n' brews smash. Balls too! Yes, in what's becoming one of modern crude comedy's easiest stock gags, The Hangover doesn't forget to include the requisite full-on floppy cock n' balls moment. The fact that that flaccid sex organ is attached to a raging, naked Chinese kingpin who comes flying out of a trunk with a crowbar and commences to bust skulls, makes this moment The Hangover's pinnacle frat house peak. The scene has the sub-genre's essential elements: uncomfortable nudity, foreign people, and hard violence.
Todd Phillips dropped out of film school at an early age and it continues to show. His technique consists of pushing "record", a style not learned, but discovered when any one of us is handed a video camera for the first time. Sadly, a recorded stand-up routine on Comedy Central or HBO has more cinematic flourish in its efficient, economic approach than what you will find in a Todd Phillips' film. There's certainly nothing wrong with a film mainly consisting of stunts or set pieces rather than a compelling storyline, but The Hangover is just plain unfun to look at. It's directed with a cloud of laziness that I'd imagine comes off of those sets where actors talk about "how much fun" they had while filming.
Never one to portray too pleasant a view of the ladies, The Hangover is Todd Phillips at his most female unfriendly. Heather Graham is not quite the "stripper with a heart of gold" but something more along the lines of a "pole dancer who's sorta sweet"; the other two prominently featured actresses play stereotypical balls-in-a-vice-grip bitches. While Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann's argument over fantasy baseball lies in Knocked-Up had a twinge of "really?!" to it, at least that marital conflict reached for genuine male/female relationship rocky-ness. From watching Phillips' films, I'm convinced he's never felt a thing for a woman, instead being too pre-occupied with pleasing his bros instead of connecting with the hos (check the way Phillips preens for the camera in his cunnilingus cameo in an elevator... if that was intended to be an Aerosmith joke, the dude's more pathetic than I thought).
In a last ditch effort to say something positive here, I will concede that Zach Galifianakis does his creepy Tim & Eric best to make something interesting appear on screen, and that Ed Helms turns in another consistent performance as a sideman. But god, as soon as something complimentary comes out of my mouth, the remembrance of that idiotic wedding singer sequence comes to mind. Oh, how fresh the shtick is of seeing an ironic white-boy singing 50 Cent's "Candy Shop" to an old dancing couple. Yeesh. Perhaps the key to tolerating The Hangover is to strap on some comedic beer goggles before entering the theater. Like the accessories that've come with the recent 3D craze, maybe movie studios and theaters should consider investing in some.