Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Hangover and the chicken mystery

When the guys wake up from their long night of debauchery in The Hangover, one of the first things you see is a chicken. How did it get there? I was wondering if anyone knew.

After all, the chicken did get its own poster.

The evidence thus far:

1) Ed Helms has been quoted saying that he will make sure that a chicken will appear in all of his future movies.

2) In his review for The Movie Watcher, Dave White proclaims the chicken is a "visual non-sequitur."

3) In his review, Rafer Guzman says "As for that chicken, maybe some puzzles are better left unsolved."

4) In his review of the film, Roger Ebert concludes that "There is never an explanation for the chicken."

5) For Los Angeles Times, blogger Joe Flint wonders about Heather Graham's career and the fact that "we never got the back story on that chicken clucking around the hotel suite."

I say let's solve the mystery! Where did the chicken come from? I will continue to update this post as new evidence arrives.

New evidence! Here's a quote from The Boston Phoenix's interview with Ed Helms:

"The chicken is the great McGuffin of "The Hangover." It's never explained. But, you know the only reason it's there is because . . . I mean there is no rational explanation for it. Although Todd will tell you, Todd Philips, the director, when I called him on the chicken I was like `What's the deal with the chicken?' He says that we stole the chicken to feed the tiger."

Helms goes on to theorize that the chicken is a "symbol of chaos," with possible "Bunuel-esque" overtones.

And by the by, this post explains how the filmmakers managed to not harm the particular chicken in question in the midst of the shoot.

Big news! The chicken wins Best Supporting Actor of the 11th Annual Alternative Oscars!

In the words of Chris Jones:

"The Hangover was a massive hit partly because it was the first comedy in years that was actually funnier than its trailer — lesson here, Will Ferrell — but more because it was anchored by a single breakout, bravura performance. Not Zach Galifianakis's turn as the psycho semiretarded brother-in-law, although he was pretty good. The real hero of The Hangover is the chicken.

The chicken's brooding, smoldering presence in the hotel suite made what might have been an ordinary bawdy comedy into something transcendent. A less capable actor, a cowardly actor, might have tried too hard, might have been unable to resist hitting the audience over its collective head with a hammer. But that beautiful, cocksure chicken trusted the material, and it trusted its chicken instincts. It trusted us, too — trusted us to get the joke without having it explained to us, without diagrams and maps. There was no talk of motivation, no origin myth, no script-by-numbers ribbon tying, everything grounded in context and meticulous backstory. Life isn't like that. Life is chaos, the thrill of the unknown, the beauty of mystery and what comes next. Sometimes we don't need a reason or a signpost. Sometimes, life just is.

And so it was with that magnificent chicken, with its perfectly timed squawks and walk-throughs.

That chicken was present. That chicken was elemental, man. That chicken belonged."


Hokahey said...

FilmDr - Thank God! I wanted to know where that frickin' chicken came from and now you've opened it up to the blogosphere. When the film ended with the guys gathered around to view the digital photos, my son got up to leave. I said, "Wait! I have to find out what happened!" as the photos accompanied the credits. But no chicken! Some sort of Vegas perversion?

FilmDr said...

In Bringing Up Baby, Katherine Hepburn's character crashes into a truck full of chickens. Perhaps one of them managed to find its way in the screenplay of The Hangover? That chicken is a source of great and terrible wonder.

Hokahey said...

This is not an explanation of the chicken in this film - but the second the chicken appears, I thought of Borat's chicken - the chicken on the subway: such an alien thing to us but in third world countries chickens, sheep, and goats are taken on public transportation.

What's your favorite scene in a movie with a chicken? I love it in Babel when Bernal picks up the chicken and twists its head off, to the complete consternation of the gringo kids.

Maybe chickens are just funny. Just put a chicken in your movie and audience members are bound to chuckle at some comical association with a chicken.

FilmDr said...

Thanks, Hokahey,

Tough question. Chicken Run? In the world of comedic birds, I prefer ducks. I once wrote and helped make a short film in part about a man who fell in love with ducks. In the movie, he talked of the "duck of judgment" and the clammy feel of its web feet. I've yet to find a major distributor as of yet.

Hokahey said...

Ducks are definitely funny. Best performance by a duck: Gertrude the duck in Journey to the Center of the Earth.

FilmDr said...

Thanks, Hokahey.

I've decided to keep this investigation going by updating the post with new evidence as it arrives. Will we ever crack the case? Thus far, the chicken mystery deepens.

talenthunter said...

We can look at the natural connection with Las Vegas, and that is the Chicken Ranch. It fits with the event of the night.

Another is the Album entitled "Hangover Chicken."

Todd said...

I once woke up in Vegas with a Chicken in my room as well. I believe that they are similar to rats and other vermin in Vegas. At least thats what the Hotel told me.

FilmDr said...

talenthunter and Todd,

Thanks for the info. I didn't know about the chicken ranch, or ratlike chickens.

Laurie Boris said...

The lack of chicken explanation BUGGED THE HECK OUT OF ME!!!!!!!!! I hate when threads are left unthreaded.

FilmDr said...

Thanks for the comment, Laurie. I understand your frustration, but I did like the way The Hangover left so much to the viewer's imagination. These unanswered questions could be one reason for the film's appeal.

Anonymous said...

hi all dont u think the xchicken could have been a present from the wedding?

FilmDr said...

Doesn't the wedding take place after the adventure in Las Vegas?
It seems like a strange present.

Anonymous said...

well it is said that there will be a hangover 2.. and that the chicken will appear again, but still there's no info about how the chicken got there.. that of being the tiger's meal it's interesting though..

FilmDr said...

Thanks for bringing up the sequel, Anonymous. Yes, I've heard that perhaps the sequel will solve the mystery of the chicken?!? If there are any updates, I will try to include them here.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I just got the unrated special edition and there are extra pix on there. It looks like the chicken pops up at the strip club they meet Jade at. Perhaps a prop for girls?! The chicken doesn't seem bothered by the chaos of its surroundings, she must be used to it!

FilmDr said...

Thanks for the info, Anonymous.

Suha said...

Well I thought chicken was the reward for pulling his own tooth. Well that would have click just perfect.

Anonymous said...

It's a Tyson Chicken!

mcvdberg(NL) said...

Was also puzzled by the poultry in pt.1; have abstained these two films since yesterday but couldn't ignore the plumage's act; a clue with a dead end. Marvellous! It's a clue-cliffhanger without explanation. Even the butler didn't do it.

FilmDr said...

At one time, I used to wonder about the chicken. Now, with The Hangover Part III, I just wonder about Bradley Cooper.