Today: June 20, 2024

Ultimate Hangover Movies

This week The Hangover Part 3 is unleashed on to our cinema screens. Who knows what this installment will bring us but after this latest escapade it might be time for the guys to have a little lie down for a while. Do the Wolf Packs’ wild weekends actually match up to other movie hangovers? Perhaps not. For decades now cinema has showed us that whilst having a headache after an all day binge can be pretty fun, there is also a darkness to partying that can result in grim and unforgiving circumstances. Whether its alcohol, drugs or sometimes both, these are hangovers that no mere mortal could survive.  So join Filmjuice’s Greg Evans on a journey through cinema’s works hangovers which will almost certainly require rehab to fully recover.

Marion Ravenwood, Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Not the first film that comes to mind in a feature about substance abuse but Doctor Jones’ first outing did give us one of film’s most hardcore drinkers. Karen Allen’s heroine Marion Ravenwood is less of an addict, more of a consumer. Seemingly able to drink anybody under the table, she isn’t phased at the prospect of doing shots with high ranking Nazi officials or the locals of Nepal. She duly knocks back the liquor with no regard.

Tom Doniphon, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Here’s what you could call a strong drinker. The stronger the brew, the better the medicine. John Wayne’s portrayal of the bitter and tough Tom, in John Ford’s classic, ranks up there as one of his finest performances. After being rejected by the love of his life, he takes to the nearest saloon and drowns away his sorrows. To then go and burn down your own house is a bit extreme but he was probably too drunk to care.

Quint, Jaws
Fighting giant killer sharks probably requires a bit of Dutch courage every now and again. However, Quint’s in-take during Jaws is probably not advisable on the high seas. Robert Shaw’s amazing portrayal of the seasoned fisherman is given even more clarity when you discover that Shaw regularly left the set to go on lengthy binges. His slurred and mumbled speech about his time during World War II is one of the most iconic moments in this exhilarating film.

Jesse and Chester, Dude Where’s My Car?
Now for the lighter side of this list and arguably the film responsible for The Hangover phenomenon. Dude Where’s My Car isn’t a great movie by any means. It’s flawed, incredibly stupid and forgettable in more ways than one. However, for the time it was a unique concept and it did have some funny jokes.  Ashton Kutcher and Sean William Scott are both likeable idiots who had way too many the night before and subsequently cannot remember a thing. The Hangover stole all of its ideas but Dude Where’s My Car is the more likeable film.

The Dude, The Big Lebowski
Does The Dude care about a hangover? No. No he does not. The Dude knows how to live his life and that’s why millions of people adore him. He even has a religion based upon his lifestyle. Although he’s only trying to recover his beloved rug, The Dude gets into all sorts of situations and meets a variety of characters along the way. Does he actually enjoy any of this? Probably not. He would be happier at a bowling alley with a White Russian. The unique thing about The Dude is that you can’t tell if he’s drunk or if he’s just having a good time. Whatever the answer, The Dude abides.

Ben Sanderson, Leaving Las Vegas
Love him or hate him, you have to agree that Nicolas Cage is best suited to playing a crazy loon. Add alcoholism into that equation and you have a winning formula. So winning was his performance in Leaving Las Vegas that it earned him an Oscar. Sanderson is a failed screenwriter who moves to Las Vegas after losing everything, with the sole purpose of drinking himself to death. He befriends prostitute Sera on his trip, who joins in on this journey of self destruction. Overall Leaving Las Vegas is an uneasy but worth while experience.

Don Birnam, The Lost Weekend
Billy Wilder was a genius. A man who was heavily entrenched within the history of Hollywood but never scared to go against its conventions. He broke taboos with The Apartment and Some Like it Hot but with The Lost Weekend he tackled the subject of drinking long before anyone else was willing to talk about it. Don Birnam is a young and talented writer who suffers from an alcohol problem. Don is so addictive to the stuff that he will steal, betray and abuse his loved ones in order to get a sip. The hangovers he suffers from are not the ones of great memories. More like the memories you’d wish to forget. The Lost Weekend is willing to show you the dark side of drinking before any sort of redemption intervenes. The despair and desperation that Ray Milland portrayed saw him, along with his director, win an Academy award in 1946.

Raoul Duke and Dr Gonzo, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Las Vegas must be a terrible place. Why are so many films about wasted days and regretful lives made there? Perhaps it’s the bright lights and falseness of the place but there is an allure that makes writers and directors set films in this city of vice. If any film ever managed to capture the madness of the place it’s Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Inspired by Hunter S. Thompson’s book of the same name, Gilliam’s film is an intoxicating trip into the mind of the famous journalist. Nothing is off limits to the films protagonists, as they intake every perceivable narcotic known to man. Sometimes entire days or weeks go past without them ever knowing what has happened. Such is the lunacy of the film, that it’s safe to say that it has inspired a fair few big hangovers in its time.

Withnail, Withnail and I (Main Picture)
Like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, nothing is off limits to this of reckless individual. Even lighter fluid seems like a plausible option for Richard E Grant’s character. Living on a heavy diet of alcohol and pills, Withnail is a sometimes psychotic and confrontational beast. Like all good drunks though, he has a heart of gold and the lyricism of an artist. Hangovers are unlikely to trouble him as he will always demand booze. The most remarkable thing about Withnail and I, is that Richard E Grant is teetotal, making his performance even more astonishing.

Henry Chinaski, Barfly
Barfly was the first film inspired by the writings of Charles Bukowski (the second was Factotum in 2005) and told the story of the unique Henry Chinaski. Rarely do you see a film where its lead character is completely sloshed for the entire time, but Henry is wasted for the entire running time of Barfly. It’s possible that he doesn’t even know what a hangover is. He is a shameless drunk and he loves it. What makes Henry one of film’s most endearing alcoholics is that he has morals. Not wishing to conform to the American dream, Henry is happy to drink away his days and listen to Mozart. As a talented writer and poet Henry could easily find a way out of squalid surroundings but he feels better suited to scrapping behind a bar than a luxury mansion. It’s a darkly comic film that will wrestle with your emotions. Unlike any other film about alcoholism it doesn’t question characters’ motifs or lifestyle. And in many ways that’s exactly how an alcoholic thinks, they don’t want help they just want to get drunk.

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