The Hangover: The Bromance of Summer

We've all seen the damsel-in-distress movie before, but in The Hangover the damsel is a dude. The Hangover is a comedy about three guys who take their buddy Doug on a bachelor party to Vegas. When Doug disappears after a night of amnesia-inducing debauchery, it's up to his friends, like a squad of Prince Charmings, to rescue him. The Hangover is poised to be the sleeper comedy of the summer, thanks in no small part to gags involving a stripper's baby (and the stripper being played by Heather Graham), a missing tiger and Mike Tyson. The movie is probably even good enough, following a string of others like it, to allow us to officially declare that the bromance is the new romantic comedy.

The genre started with Judd Apatow's The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, followed closely by I Love You, Man, about a hapless guy who goes on a series of "man dates" to find a best man for his own wedding. (Considering that Paul Rudd appeared in all three of those movies, you might also say he's the bromance's Founding Brother.) Buddy comedies are nothing new, but the bromance shows us that straight guys, even without the aid of a high-speed car chase, can bond almost as strongly as heterosexual lovebirds. To succeed, a bromance must walk a fine line. It must lightly indulge in gay stereotypes, but never in a mean-spirited way. The bromance allows straight men to share their feelings—or, in Superbad, their sleeping-bag space—with their buddies without fear of ridicule by the audience. "When I saw I Love You, Man in theaters," says Todd Phillips, the director of The Hangover, "there's a part where [another actor] kisses Rudd, because he thinks they're on a romantic date. An audience 15 years ago would probably go—" He makes a loud disgusted sound. "But now they laugh and understand the comedy."

OK, boys, let's see how open-minded you are about the next big bromance, Humpday, which opens in July. Humpday centers on straight guys Andrew and Ben, a modern-day Odd Couple, with an emphasis on the odd. At your quintessenial Seattle boho-slacker party, they get stoned and drunk and vow to make a porno movie—with each other. As a testament to their own open-mindedness, as well as to their no-holds-barred friendship, they resolve to go through with their plan even when they're sober. In other words, Humpday stretches the bromance to its most extreme, and arguably logical, conclusion. "In general," says the director, Lynn Shelton, "straight men are really invested in being assured they're straight. There seems to be anxiety about that. But I've seen these relationships in my life, men in love with each other, these man crushes. What does that mean?" It means that as long as you keep laughing, Hollywood is the new city of brotherly love.

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