“The Hangover” (2009)

I got the groom to the wedding, after making sure he had the time of his life. The bride, of course, was pissed. And the groom and my friendship soon disintegrated.

That was both the first, and last, time I was in charge of a bachelor party. That was 15 years ago.

The evening included lesbians, binge drinking, strippers, gambling (and winning!), the phrase “A round of drinks on the house!”, taxicabs, the groom passing out and requiring first aid, many venue changes, and very little sleep.

It did not include traveling to another city, animals barnyard or exotic, surprise elopements, or criminal elements (that I’m aware of).

If the one I was in charge of is any indication, a bachelor party is a source of much material for stories written and filmed. Even a tame one, like the one I was in charge of, would, if filmed, make for much entertainment. And with just a bit of exaggeration, a truly epic movie could be made.

Like, say, “The Hangover”. The main characters in The Hangover start the movie in deep trouble. They’re out in the desert, scarred, scared, and in possession of a nearly-destroyed vintage Mercedes-Benz. Phil (Bradley Cooper, playing the charming live-for-the-moment member of the party) is calling the bride to tell her that, well, they lost Doug (Justin Bartha). The bride is livid; don’t they know that she is getting married in five hours?!

“Yeah,” Phil says, laconically if sympathetically. “That’s not gonna happen.”

And the movie then flashes back to show the lead-up to this grave situation.

The best part is, the movie doesn’t actually show the events in question. No, after some set-up, it jumps forward and leaves the men nothing but a handful of clues with which they are supposed to retrace their steps and find their friend; Phil is wearing a bracelet from a hospital; Stu (played by a hilarious Ed Helms), the normally co-dependent doctor dentist, has an ATM receipt from the Bellagio for Eight Thousand Dollars; there’s a live tiger in the suite’s bathroom, and a chicken wandering around the (literally) smoking remains of the hotel room; a mattress that they, somehow, recognize as belonging to the groom is impaled on a statue outside the hotel, as if flung from a great height; and Alan (Zach Galifianakis), the befuddled, mysterious, vaguely threatening brother of the bride, has discovered a baby in a closet (which produces almost no surprise, considering it’s not the first time he’s found a baby).

And the three men have literally no memory of the night.

Do the men learn a valuable lesson about male friendship and reach a place of peace with their choices in life? Who the hell cares? As the work their way backward in Las Vegas, the stakes continue to be raised and many, many laughs are had.

My one complaint about the movie is that the three female roles are not even sketches of real women; the anxious bride, the shrewish controlling girlfriend of Stu, and the stripper/escort Jade (the still-innocent Heather Graham), are barely there. I suppose that’s inevitable in a movie like this, which is more about the Hollywood myth of bromance than actual real-life relationships. For that matter, the male characters aren’t much more than a handful of quirks themselves. Charming quirks, though.

Wait… wonder whatever happened to the friend whose bachelor party I was responsible for? Did his shrewish wife force him to disavow me as a friend after we showed up, barely on time for the wedding, the groom so hungover he had to wear sunglasses inside? Whatever happened to his brother, the socially-awkward repressed kid? And why can’t I remember the names of the two lesbians who accompanied us that night, and what their relationship was to the rest of us? What happened to all the money I won at video poker?

Hmmm… either I’m a living stereotype, or Hollywood might just have something to tell us about ourselves, after all.