By Kalila Smith, Film & TV Investigations Editor
Oh, to be a fresher again: a time filled with inexperience, unruliness, and unwavering eagerness – the holy trinity for chaos. You wave goodbye to your parents as you venture into a world that feels ungovernable and reckless. However, fear not, for what is a better handbook on alcohol and drugs than one that is derived from the most mentally stable and sober industry alive and kicking… Hollywood.
This handbook will break down what exactly went wrong in The Hangover (2009), Sisters (2015) and The World’s End (2013) in hopes that this Freshers’ Week does not involve Mike Tyson’s tiger, trees falling on residential homes or a zombie apocalypse.
The Hangover (2009)
Dir. Todd Phillips
I can vouch that only a couple of Jägermeister shots can turn a civilised night out into a 12-hour long session severely lacking in human dignity. Except for Phil (Bradley Cooper), Alan (Zach Galifianakis), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha), their shots were laced with Rohypnol.
To celebrate Doug’s impending marriage, they go to Las Vegas and start the night with a group shot on the roof of Caesars Palace. Immediately after, dir. Phillips places the audience in the same shoes as the four friends by abruptly jumping to the morning after in the hotel suite. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a blackout.
Doug is missing, Stu’s tooth is also missing, Mike Tyson’s tiger is in the bathroom, a baby is in the closet, and there are undoubtedly mind-numbing headaches, spinning ceilings and the short-lived contemplation of never drinking again. In search of Doug, they must retrace their steps. In doing so, Stu becomes the physical embodiment of ‘hangxiety’ as he discovers he pulled out his own tooth and married a hooker named Jade (Heather Graham).
During the day, the group become targets of a taser demonstration after stealing a police car and use Alan’s ability to card count at a casino so they can repay Mike Tyson for his supposedly stolen money. Galifianakis fully leans into the awkward nature of his character, Alan, and perfects a childish mindset and jarring one-liners.
Freshers, you will encounter a few Alans at university- please do not follow their lead. They will be the person in the group who is positively unfazed by the night because this is a regular occurrence for them.
Although it might seem self-explanatory, for those taking notes when watching The Hangover, please don’t.
Dir. Jason Moore
The cast is filled to the brim with SNL actors, with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler performing the two sisters, Kate and Maura, respectively. The film also features Kate McKinnon, Maya Rudolph, Bobby Moynihan, and Rachel Dratch, who all play incredibly wacky characters.
Maura is the kind-hearted, selfless, ‘designated driver’ of the two sisters, whilst Kate is the daredevil with a very dysfunctional relationship with her daughter. After their parents decide to sell the family home, the duo must make one final return to clear out their rooms which soon escalates into a farewell party bash.
This film is filled with endless don’ts. Don’t ask your potential one-night stand if they saw their parent die in the first 30 seconds of talking, don’t have your invite list involve a prepubescent child, don’t compare a police officer to an Affleck brother to evade a noise complaint, and, although it looks hilarious on screen, no drink-driving!
However, something I personally would love to see at a party is the Dirty Dancing (1987) lift, which Fey and John Cena perform together. Cena supplies the party with drugs which results in people running through walls and, for all my fellow cinephiles, the most painful game of ‘Guess the Movie’ ever as the players struggled to connect Scarface (1983) to the iconic assault rifle scene. Cena comically feeds into the stereotype of a monotonous, leather-wearing, built drug dealer whom Kate fawns for almost immediately.
The funniest scene must be when a one-night stand between Maura and James (Ike Barinholtz) turns into a literal nurse’s examination, as a music box impales James in a place that is unforgivable.
This is a film predominantly about a party-gone-wrong with character development lurking in the background – a heart-warmer for all sisters.
The World’s End (2013)
Dir. Edgar Wright
As soon as you see Edgar Wright’s name in the credits, you know this is going to be a satirical, boyish film with plentiful jump shots and comedic cuts. Wright nails his exploration of British drinking culture and the sharp humour that comes with it. The cherry on top is the star-studded British cast with Bristol alumni Simon Pegg as Gary, Nick Frost as Andy, Martin Freeman as Oliver, Rosamund Pike as Sam and an unexpected feature of Pierce Brosnan as a villainous recruiter for the ‘blanks’.
A group of middle-aged men reunite due to Gary’s unhealthy desperation to complete 'The Golden Mile' – an epic pub crawl involving 12 pints. The men's rational judgement is clearly strongly lacking as they decide to continue the crawl after decapitating 5 blue-inked robots, who are called ‘blanks’.
At this point, I would suggest calling it a night. Instead, Wright creates an accomplished, slow-motion montage of the five friends attempting to unsuspectingly walk away from the crime scene with Alabama Song (Whisky Bar) accompanying the scene.
Surprisingly, there is much to learn from this film when excluding the apocalyptic aspect. Don’t be Peter and stray from the group on a night out; you will remain lost forever or, in Peter’s case, turn into a ‘blank’. Kicking a policeman in the head also remains reserved for this film since he was also a ‘blank’, and do not attempt to replicate the pub brawls, however epic they may look.
Towards the end of the film, Gary celebrates the stupidity of the human race to deter the ‘blanks’ from taking over. It becomes a strangely sentimental message in what is a larger-than-life, farcical film where heads are treated like footballs.
Therefore, freshers as members of the human race are stupid, just not too stupid.
All three directors successfully make a hazardous night out look thrilling but please take it with a pinch of salt. As you enter Freshers’ Week and familiarise yourself with the city of Bristol, push the boundaries and have fun, but in the fine words of Andy from The World’s End, drinking water should and does not make you any less of a man or woman.
Featured Image: IMDB
Fun Fact: The Hangover is loosely based on a friend of the executive producer Chris Bender!