The Hangover | 2009
A stag night in Las Vegas. What could possibly go wrong? These guys obviously don’t go to the movies much.
Todd Phillips starts the film like it’s going to be a Garry Marshall romance, with wedding preparations at the comfy home of the Garner family, where Alan (Zach Galifianakis) demonstrates the timeless elegance of the little white jockstrap. If it’s a mansion, chances are it’s Pasadena and, true to form, the grand house is 415 South Grand Avenue, at Lockehaven Street, in the leafy enclave west of the city alongside the Arroyo Seco.
As a teacher, Phil (Bradley Cooper) really ought to know better. But since he’s scamming money from his pupils at Daniel Webster School, 2101 East Washington Boulevard, at Pepper Drive, maybe not. Over in northeast Pasadena, this was also the school attended by Angelina Jolie’s son in Clint Eastwood’s 2008 Changeling.
The ‘Gas n Gulp’ stop, where Stu loyally defends his wife’s indiscretion with the bartender on a cruise ship, is the Shell Gas Station, 1 Goodsprings Road in the tiny commercial town of Jean, on I-15, just over the border in Nevada.
Arrival in Las Vegas is signalled with shots of the Paris Las Vegas and the dancing fountains of the Bellagio (seen at their best in Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven), before the lads check in to Caesar’s Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Boulevard South. That’s the casino’s real lobby and its corridors but the ‘villa’, with those great views down the strip, was created on Stage 15 at Warner Bros in Burbank.
It’s on Caesar’s rooftop that spiked Jaegermeisters are downed and the evening disappears into the black hole of oblivion.
Next morning, with a chicken in the bedroom, a tiger in the bathroom, a baby in tow and the groom-to-be missing, the three friends follow a trail of clues from the previous evening’s debauchery to ‘The Best Little Chapel’. If you learned nothing from this film and were looking forward to celebrating nuptials at this charming little venue, prepare to be disappointed. The chapel was constructed for the film from scratch on an empty lot on Las Vegas Boulevard several blocks south of The Strip.
The cop station in which they inevitably wind up is back in Los Angeles, where it’s actually the interior of the old LAPD Rampart Division headquarters on the southwest junction of West Third Street and Union Avenue, in the Westlake North district.
After reclaiming their impounded car, it’s on the parking lot on Giles Street at Mandalay Bay, opposite the Luxor’s Sphinx, that they discover a naked and understandably irate Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) in the trunk.
Mr Chow runs into the trio again – literally – in front of Atomic Liquors, the oldest (free-standing) bar in Las Vegas, at 917 Fremont Street, between N 9th and N 10th Streets. Opened in 1952, it was a popular spot from which to watch nuclear blasts from the nearby Atomic Test Site. There’s a pastime we all miss. The bar was also seen in Martin Scorsese’s Casino.
One film the boys clearly have seen is Rain Man, as they rack up sizeable winnings with a cheeky spot of card counting at the tables of the now-gone Riviera Hotel and Casino, which stood at 2901 Las Vegas Boulevard South at Riviera Boulevard. The Riviera was previously seen in Doug Liman’s Go and the original 1960 Ocean’s Eleven.
The dry lake bed, where they exchange the winnings for the wrong Doug is back at the town of Jean.
It’s hardly a spoiler to reveal that the real Doug is eventually discovered, and it’s back to the expansive lawns of the Pasadena estate just in time for the wedding.