There is something about Kamwana's Video Parlour, where I watched this movie last Friday, that manages to peel the glamour off Hollywood; turn all that tinsel into post-midnight Cinderella. I used to think it was the bad quality DVDs, you know, those grainy 40-in-1s with subtitles- that you cannot disable- in a language that appears to be Chinese with an English accent. But now I think otherwise. It must be the social and economic distance. The distance between the actors and the spaces where their made up realities are played out and us and the spaces from which we observe them.
Anyway, it is not like we a reviewing a Warner Herzog film for the New Yorker or something, so let us cut the quasi-intelligent musings. Hangover is one hell of a funny movie. Even when you are watching it on a camera copy dubbed by an idiot who decided to: a) Sit too far left of the movie theatre giving you more theatre wall than screen in most frames; b) Enjoy the movie rather than film its screening and as he laughed into his mike gave the movie the feel of a broken fourth wall and with his body shaking with glee, the camera calls attention to itself like a bad version of that scene in Children of Men (2006) where blood from the shoot splashes on the camera; c) sit behind an incontinent guy who when he isn't getting up and walking right through your screen, manages to keep his long, shabby hair in it all the time. Simply put, this movie is straight out hilarious, no technical challenges in watching it can get in the way of the laughs.
Hangover doesn't pretend to be anything but a comedic guy flick, thus to judge it outside of these parameters is not to do it a disservice as much as to hoist it on a pedestal that it neither deserves or demands. If you are looking for a movie that will, above all else, make you think and or engages your social consciousness then get Kibera Kid, or whatever, Hangover is not for you. It is also not the movie for you if you are looking for that new; edgy; ground breaking comedy. That is unless you have never heard the phrase, 'what happens in Vegas stays there,' or watched a movie premised on amnesia.
With writing credits including the John Lucas & Scott Moore duo that gave us the the considerably hilarious Four Christmases, Hangover's plot is quite simple. Doug is getting married to Tracy Garner and so his boys, Stu and Phil, decide to take him to Vegas on his last night as a bachelor. Tracy's brother, Alan, Stu and Phil's reservations not withstanding, tags along. They head out in Tracy's dad's treasured old school Mercedes Benz convertible, which he has graciously entrusted to Doug.
Once in Vegas, after checking into the Caesers Palace, the guys go to the roof to toast to a great night out. The next we know is that they are passed out in their hotel room with a chicken clucking about, a tiger in the bathroom and a toddler in the closet. Two things are conspicuously missing from this tableau that is evidence of tremendously wild night out: everyone's recollection of the past night and the bridegroom. The movie then turns into this epic of hilarity as the present trio seek to find their memories and the bridegroom with only a few hours to go before the wedding.
Even as I laughed right through this movie, I couldn't help checking myself every time the thought of the number of times I have woken up in weird places and situations and with all the events over the past couple of hours or even days being able to fit in one blank slate. I do not even remember which of those moments it is that I have written about on this blog, but one particular one comes to mind. In a post titled Young Urban Polysexual, I recollected:
"I came to this morning at Jamo’s house as sticky between the legs as an SJ whore. To shower or not to shower, that was the question. I skived shawi but I had to have loads of alcohol to wash away the taste of semen and after shave from my mouth."
How I had ended up at Jamo's I have still never been able to explain and neither can I answer the question: with whom and how did I have sex.
But my life is paralleled by the movie Hangover only in the amnesia. The setting is totally withdrawn from my reality, what with the fancy car, the luxurious suite in a Las Vegas hotel and the fact that a guy can just put USD800 on his credit card on a whim. Man, if I just had the USD800, here in Nairobi, I would give myself permanent head damage.
The heartbreaking part though is the realisation that for this guys, Vegas, the big night is just this one night when they get to do something silly. For me, for all of these kids down here, this is what we try to do every day. At the end of the movie, the guys return home to a wedding and their normal lives of wives, jobs, cars and dogs. For us, when we come to, there is nothing to return to. Nothing but all that that we were trying to get high enough to forget, in the first place.
Posts that mention Kamwana's Video Parlour:
1. Return of the Sleazemeister
2. Last Thursday
3. The Night of the Rattlesnakes
4. Frm Grass to Grace