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Movies Movies

I’ve seen a couple of films since the debacle that was Terminator.  The Taking of Pelham 123, and last night I went and saw The Hangover.  Both were quite good, but The Hangover wins.  Pelham had good performances (how can you go wrong with Travolta and Denzel Washington), and thank god Tony Scott got his jiggle, shake cam out of his system during the opening credits. 

But the script left the tracks (forgive the pun) when they decided to take the hijackers out of the tunnels and into the streets of New York.  I think this was done just so they could have a shootout and a car chase.   The director also staged the shootout in a way that makes me crazy.  Bad guys in middle of a circle of cop cars.  They start shooting.  Cops jump out of their cars and shoot at the guys in the middle of the circle.  Can you say circular firing squad?

The script was also pretty obvious.  It takes our heroes until well into the third act to figure out Travolta’s identity and what he’s up to, when it was obvious early in act one.  I did like the fact that Washington’s character has a secret, and you learn it in a very exciting moment.

All in all it was a very pleasant couple of hours.

The Hangover is a comedic jewel.  I normally don’t like films where it starts, and then rolls back hours or days.  This movie pulls that stunt, but does it very well.  The opening tag was so well done that I was intrigued.  The role of the lost bridegroom is a thankless one, but the three friends get to play everything to the hilt, and it’s a rollicking ride for them and the audience.  The dialogue is sharp and funny.  When Ed Helms looks at his missing tooth, and declares that he looks like a “nerdy hillbilly”, the audience was roaring with laughter.  Even the creepy broth-in-law to be turns out to be this sweet, man-child once you get to know him.  The vignettes are also wonderful — Mike Tyson as Mike Tyson, and this crazed Chinese gambler, the liquor store owner/drug dealer, the hooker with the heart of gold, and the cops whose car got boosted by the three buddies.

They played fair by setting up everything in the beginning with the exception of the location of the missing bridegroom.  And it’s only a halfway cheat because early on there is a big clue.  The director also made Vegas a character in the film, and it made me want to go back even though I find the town creepy and depressing the one time I was actually there.

I give this film a big thumbs up.  It’s fun, and it’s worth watching as a screenwriting exercise because this is a nice piece of clockwork writing.

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