Scene of the Week: The Hangover - Wake Up
Our Scene of the Week feature is in full swing now, and it’s been a real pleasure thus far. There are so many iconic scenes to choose from, making the feature a joy to work with. This week, I’ve chosen The Wake Up scene from The Hangover. Now, I feel this scene, and film for that matter, are classic, but not for the typical emotive reasons you’d sometimes associate with Hollywood. The Hangover was a tremendous concept, very fresh and perfectly executed, following three guys trying to piece together what they did on the stag do the night before. Every guy could relate to it, every girl could roll their eyes at it, but all could enjoy it. You’d think the sheer amount of comedy would wear thin quickly, but it’s done in such an impeccable manner that it just flows, coupled with the elements of realism making it relatable, even if some of it is blown way out of proportion - I, personally, have never woke up to find a tiger in my bathroom, for example!
The first thing that strikes me about this particular scene is how well it sums up that horrendous feeling after a particularly heavy night. Everything is done in a slow, laboured manner, and nothing really makes any sense. Some are susceptible to being wobbly on their feet, another thing we see here! Firstly, we see the camera pan around some of the hotel room, picking up glimpses of random pick-ups from the night before - inflatables, a sword, a chicken, the usual stuff! Some of the camera work is phenomenal, as we see the shot follow a random woman’s feet tiptoeing towards the exit, at which point we pick up Ed Helms’ Stu, who is crashed out of the floor, and only stirs when the woman leaves. He slowly wakes up and has a look around, moving nothing but his eyes to do so at first. He then manages to rise and put on his misshapen glasses, which is where the next bit of brilliant camera work comes in. We are treated to a Go-Pro style, inverse point of view, where we see Stu’s face picking up on everything he sees in the room, the camera rotating as he himself does so to take it all in.
We then get the treat of Alan awaking, and immediately stumbling and falling backwards, taking a myriad of champagne buckets and plastic cups with him, making a hell of a noise in the process. This is where it gets Hollywood, with the tiger I mentioned earlier! Alan nips into the bathroom, still drunk and half asleep, and glances over to the tiger, thinking nothing of it at first, mid-pee. Then, the reality hits him and he flees, screaming, tripping over former AotW Bradley Cooper’s Phil on the floor outside the door! Yes, it’s the shock of a tiger that wakes him up, but we can all relate to a feeling of realism smacking us in the face when we realise what’s gone/going on the morning after the night before!
As you’ll know, we feel the musical element to a scene/film is supremely important, and this scene is no exception. The first half of it is played out to an excellent cover version of Fever, with this particular version by The Cramps. It comes with a more sombre, slightly dark feeling than the one many of us are more familiar with, and it works in perfect tandem with the scene of random imagery and realisation that is unfolding.
As I said at the top of this piece, The Hangover was a fantastic concept and is a film my friends and I have seen a number of times and take plenty of dialogue from. It nails different personalities perfectly, and captures every feeling that comes with a special occasion, good, bad and ugly! This scene is right up there for me in terms of execution and freshness. Classic comedy! Enjoy it below.