Movies

'The Hangover': The Curious Case Of The Domesticated Raunchfest

Bride and groom wedding cake toppers

Wedded bliss: The Hangover concerns a bachelor party gone awry. But what does it ultimately say about tying the knot? iStockphoto.com hide caption

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As mentioned the other day, The Hangover is still going strong after two weekends in theaters.

After the ostentatious expressions of surprise that a movie without any "stars" could make so much money so quickly, it seems that the main topic of conversation is the closing credit sequence. (Caution: discussion of content that is seriously not suitable for mixed company.)

What's interesting is how little people are talking about the other noteworthy way that the movie ends, and how it fits snugly into a trend that seems to have gone unnoticed over the past few years. And on the whole, it may say more about The Hangover's sensibilities than whether that was really a you-know-what being what'd-you-say?ed.

What's so interesting about the ending of The Hangover...so obviously don't proceed if you aren't okay with knowing the basics of the ending of The Hangover, after the jump...

The Hangover, you see, is a raunchy, R-rated boy comedy that ends at a wedding. So was I Love You, Man. And Wedding Crashers. And The 40-Year-Old Virgin. And American Wedding (the third movie in the venerable American Pie franchise.)

That should be surprising, considering that weddings are, in moviethink, the exclusive province of women. That's how you get 27 Dresses, Made Of Honor and Bride Wars.

Raunchy, R-rated boy comedies, on the other hand, are thought to be Man Show paradises, where folks burdened with that pesky Y chromosome can let it all hang out (sometimes literally) without worrying that the fairer sex is watching.

That's clearly not the case, considering the reports that The Hangover's audience includes almost as many women as men.

For a bunch of these movies, of course, the wedding is so far from a surprise that it's built into the plot itself right from the start. The Hangover is a bachelor party gone awry. I Love You, Man centers around a search for a best man. The main characters of Wedding Crashers were wedding crashers. (Um. Spoiler.) American Wedding involves a wedding in, I'm guessing, America. I never saw that one.

But there's something to the fact that all the debauchery, all of the bad behavior, all of the boys-will-be-boys-ness ultimately leads to simple connubial bliss in the end. In fact, for as much as The 40-Year-Old Virgin borrows its overall structure from teen sex comedies (with the titular twist), Steve Carell's character doesn't actually do the deed until he's firmly ensconced within the bonds of matrimony.

In Wedding Crashers, meanwhile, there's a turning point when Owen Wilson meets Will Ferrell, who has devoted his life to crasherdom and little else. But the character is quickly revealed as a cautionary tale of stunted maturity that awaits Wilson if he doesn't clean up his act.

There's no such moment in The Hangover, but things settle in the direction of family life all the same. Justin Bartha's groom is delivered to his nuptials, worse for wear but ready to say "I do." Bradley Cooper spends much of his final scene holding his tired young son to his chest.

As much as their experiences in the movie change them, it turns them into better husbands and fathers. It's the same message that can be gleaned from the conclusions of so many other raunchy, R-rated boy comedies. They might as well be saying, "See? Give us enough time and we'll still do the right thing! What are you so worried about, ladies?" As it turns out, The Hangover isn't about men gone wild, it's about their domestication.

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