Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Criticwatch - The seedy underbelly of Ben Lyons


What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
Except for Ben Lyons, unfortunately.
Erik Childress finally gets his chance to tear apart The Hangover--oh yeah, and Ben Lyons, too:

Last week I was unable to counter the Bens’ early positive review of The Hangover due to constrictions of an embargo. And the fact that its seriously one of the worst films of the year. Laughter can vary from person-to-person, but I’m rather shocked that more professional students of film have been unable to call Todd Phillips out on his utter inability to setup or payoff a gag, punchline or comic situation. Continue reading on to last week’s column where you can see some of the “intelligent” and “sophisticated” humor to be found in The Hangover. This week we had the painful reminder that they believe this “strong script” to be “one of the funniest comedies this year so far.” It got more painful as Lyons tried to sell the idea that this was somehow a darker and edgier piece about Vegas.

Ok, full disclosure, I actually thought it was pretty funny, unfortunately most of the characters are unlikable and it falls back on crude stereotypes and just crudeness for crudeness sake. Oh yeah, and the closer we get to the end of the mystery, the more absurd and unbelievable it gets. On the other hand, it actually doesn't descend into the grittiness of Las Vegas at other moments, which is what Ben Lyons held it up for, and where Erik rightly takes him down, starting with this quote:

Lyons: A great slice of authentic Vegas. This is not Oceans’ 11 with slick suits and gorgeous casinos or even a movie like 21 which tried to glorify Vegas.

And then this exchange:

LYONS: “This is modern Vegas. It shows you the good, the bad, the ugly. It really captures the feeling of sin city being tucked away in the desert.

MANK: Little bit of the despair.

LYONS: A LOT of the despair.


To which Erik responds:

Selling this idea that Phillips succeeded in making The Hangover worthy of the title of a “dark comedy” is profoundly absurd. How many down-and-out losers end up at MIKE TYSON’S MANSION??? How dark can a movie be when it channels Rain Man - and I say “channel” instead of “satirize” since Phillips doesn’t understand how the scene doesn’t come as funny but rather as something straight out of 21, which Lyons scoffed for glorifying Vegas - and has our characters go off on a blackjack streak that even William H. Macy in The Cooler couldn’t ice with the most golden hearted stripper/escort who looks like Heather Graham on one of their arms? Todd Phillips’ Vegas – the place where dreams go to die.

Click here to read the entire article

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