So we don't know if you've heard, but there's a sequel to a little movie called The Hangover coming out this week, in which pre-wedding festivities once again go horribly, hilariously awry for three guys in way, way over their heads (Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, and Ed Helms). The first Hangover took bachelor party comedy to a new level, so in honor of the Wolfpack's return, we took a look at some of the other notable entries in the genre. Like many actual weddings, some of these movies didn't turn out the way they were supposed to, but we're betting you'll find a few favorites as you sift through the Tomatometer wreckage. Dearly beloved, it's time to Total Recall!
Few characters in the annals of modern mainstream Hollywood comedy have been more uniquely qualified or prepared to plan a bachelor party than Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott), the sex-obsessed lunatic whose exploits helped the American Pie series redefine raunchy R-rated humor. With American Wedding, he finally got his chance -- and he didn't disappoint, lining up a pair of strippers to surprise the soon-to-be-wedded Jim (Jason Biggs). Of course, Stifler being Stifler, things didn't exactly turn out as planned; in fact, Jim's new in-laws ended up becoming unplanned participants in all the ribaldry. But all's well that ends well, and although Wedding didn't earn distinguished critical marks, it made over $230 million at the box office, and earned somewhat begrudging praise from the likes of Robert Denenstein of the Denver Rocky Mountain News, who called it "Funny when it needs to be" and added, "I don't know what more you can ask from the third installment of a series that has gone further than anyone reasonably could have expected."
Before he started hoarding Oscar nominations, Tom Hanks had to work his way up the professional ladder just like anyone else -- a journey that included starring in this cheerfully ribald, playfully shallow 1984 comedy about a bus driver whose trip to the altar with his fiancee (Tawny Kitaen) has to make it through dozens of wacky obstacles, including a disapproving father-in-law, a scheming ex-boyfriend, and a donkey. It's pretty standard stuff as far as the T&A comedies of the 1980s are concerned, and quite a few critics dismissed it out of hand, but Bachelor Party has become something of a cult classic over the years -- something that might have been predicted by Roger Ebert, who gave it three stars and wrote, "Bachelor Party has some great moments and qualifies as a raunchy, scummy, grungy Blotto Bluto memorial."
Spike Lee's cousin Malcolm made his debut with this 1999 dramedy, which stars Taye Diggs as Harper Stewart, a budding novelist whose doubts about his girlfriend (Sanaa Lathan) are put to the test when a galley copy of his book starts making the rounds among his friends -- and an ex-girlfriend who might be the one that got away (Nia Long). As if all that weren't enough to deal with, Harper is also faced with handling the titular duties at the wedding of his best friend (Morris Chestnut), which includes hiring an attractive young woman (Regina Hall) to perform a rather provocative dance. Boasting a smartly written script, a likable cast (including Terrence Howard in an early role), and a solid soundtrack featuring The Roots, Maxwell, and Beyoncé, The Best Man earned praise from critics such as Michael Dequina of The Movie Report, who argued, "If you ask me, it's impossible to not like a film that ends with the entire cast doing the electric slide to Cameo's 1980s funk classic 'Candy.'"
In Hollywood, a wedding isn't a wedding until the bride loses her mind, and nothing is as funny as a good cat fight. Enter 2009's Bride Wars, a slapstick brawl to the altar between two lifelong best friends (Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson) whose relationship is torn asunder when their weddings are mistakenly planned for the same day. When neither bride-to-be is willing to change her date, it unleashes a flood of repressed rage, cruel practical jokes, and one very aggressive bachelorette party dance-off, as well as a climactic brawl (in wedding dresses, natch). Bride Wars was a $115 million hit, but most critics didn't find it all that funny; in fact, most of them dismissed it as more proof of the film industry's patronizing attitude toward female relationships. A notable exception was Time's Mary Pols, who wrote that "even though the catfighting goes over the top, the notion that a passionate female friendship can turn ugly in a heartbeat is, sadly, realistic."
Most movie bachelor parties promise untold levels of debauchery, but -- much like their real-life counterparts -- tend to be relatively tame affairs. Leave it to Kevin Smith to film an exception to the rule with Clerks II, which puts audiences in the front row for a donkey show with an unexpected twist. A film so gleefully profane that Joel Siegel infamously walked out of his screening, Clerks II ultimately failed to capture the cultural zeitgeist the way its predecessor did, but for some critics, it represented Smith's growth as a filmmaker. Calling it "Probably the funniest film Smith has done since the original," Joe Utichi of FilmFocus argued, "it's chock full of childish humour and witty observations on pop culture -- but there's something real beneath all of that as well. Something, dare it be said, touching."