Just got a press release from Warner Brothers trumpeting The Hangover Part 2’s king size box office gross. “The blockbuster comedy has now crossed $200 million worldwide,” it screams, “the fastest of any comedy to surpass that benchmark.” Right now the gross sits at about $205 million, a figure that is no doubt growing by the second, leading Warner Bros. Pictures President of Domestic Distribution Dan Fellman to predict that this Hangover will “last throughout the summer.”
Maybe it will. Still doesn’t mean it’s a good movie, or that the critics got it wrong.
Box office success isn’t always an indication of quality. Can you guess what Night of the Hunter, Metropolis, Blade Runner and Modern Times all have in common? Two things. They’re all classics, films regarded as important cultural artifacts and they all flopped on their original release.
Let’s try that again. What do The Day After Tomorrow, Rush Hour 2, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra share? Two things. There’s not a classic among them, and they all made at least $50 million on their opening weekend.
I don’t begrudge The Hangover Part 2’s gross. I’m sure Todd Phillips and company are nice people but no amount of box office business will ever convince me this is a good movie. Commercial and artistic success are often two mutually exclusive realms. Ask Van Gogh. He only sold one painting during his lifetime.