The Wolfpack (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis) is back and has another night that no one remembers in The Hangover Part II, which opens in theaters everywhere today. This time the guys toast beer to Stu's (Helms) upcoming nuptials on a quiet Thai beach and wake up dazed and confused in a seedy hotel in Bangkok. To make matters worse, Stu's young future brother-in-law is missing, but he has left behind one of his severed fingers…and a monkey drug mule.
Hollywood has had a long love affair with drunks on-screen, and that's probably because the screenwriters are culling material from personal experience. This writer will stop short of telling you that he is enjoying some sweet nectar right now, but it got him thinking about his eight favorite intoxicating movies featuring characters under the influence. Before you go on a bender at the multiplex with the Wolfpack this Memorial Day Weekend, hair of the dog it at home while watching any of these top shelf films.
Hancock: Will Smith plays the alcoholic titular superhero who is jeered at crime scenes because he's one of those fall-down drunks that breaks expensive stuff (i.e. hide the priceless vase and china). Here we have a man with super powers—including incredible strength, invulnerability and flight—and he still can't hold his liquor. What chance do we mortals have? An unrated cut is available on both DVD and Blu-ray.
The Big Lebowski: "Mind the beverage, man!" says Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) in this 1998 comedy. The beverage in question is a White Russian, a cocktail the Dude indulges in when he's not busy smoking weed or bowling. The Dude is up to his neck in an embezzlement scheme, has just impregnated a pretentious avant-garde artist (Julianne Moore) and is almost drowned in his own toilet—the kinds of things that happen when you mix White Russians with marijuana. The Coen brothers' cult classic is only available on DVD right now, but the Blu-ray will arrive by the end of summer.
Bad Santa: This pitch-black comedy stars Billy Bob Thornton as a disheveled, drunk mall Santa who, every year with the help of his dwarf friend dressed as an elf, disables the security alarms after hours to rob the mall blind. After getting attacked outside a bar by another satisfied customer who doesn't know his limit, Bad Santa meets a pudgy, preteen boy whom he nicknames "The Kid." The Kid brings his new friend home and Thornton proceeds to raid the family safe, which is what happens when you bring disheveled, drunk thieves home from watering holes. Bad Santa is available unrated on both DVD and Blu-ray.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: To answer the question posed in the title, we all are. The late Elizabeth Taylor won an Oscar for playing Martha, the booze-guzzling wife of George (Richard Burton), a college history professor. Martha is one of those annoying people that never know when to end the party and just pass out, so she invites a young couple over for drinks at 2:00 AM after one of her father's social gatherings. Martha bickers with George, behaves lewdly in front of the new guests and has an emotional breakdown, which is what happens when you turn the corner and hit a wall of reality instead of your mattress. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is available on DVD only.
Old School: Three thirtysomething friends (Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell and Luke Wilson) long for their college days and buy a frat house near their alma mater. Hell-bent on showing the next generation how to booze with authority, the three revert to their old ways: Ferrell's character was known as "Frank the Tank" in college for his hard-partying ways and Wilson is dubbed "The Godfather." The important moral here is when you open your party up to anyone, some old man will die in the corner and it will really kill a kegger. Old School is available unrated on both DVD and Blu-ray.
Arthur: Oscar-nominated Dudley Moore plays Arthur Bach, a New York City playboy suffering from arrested development and set to inherit his father's $750 million fortune. The catch? Arthur must marry an upper-class beauty who the family hopes will help him grow up. Before he can propose, Arthur meets and falls for Queens waitress Linda Marolla (Liza Minnelli). Boozy antics ensue and, at the end, Arthur must decide between money and Linda…or figure out a way to have both. Soak up Arthur on either DVD or Blu-ray.
Barfly: There are laughs to be had in this semi-autobiographical account of poet/author Charles Bukowski's hard-boozing times in Los Angeles dive bars, but you'll still root for tortured writer Henry Chinaski (Mickey Rourke) to sell some of his work and beat the hell out of Frank Stallone for sandwich money. Standing by her inebriated man is Wanda (Faye Dunaway), a "distressed goddess" and fellow barfly who doesn't take kindly to a "Beverly Hills bitch" looking to slum it with Henry. Sadly, this intoxicating drama is only available on an out-of-print DVD.
The Hangover: After toasting their friend on the roof of Caesar's Palace in Vegas for his bachelor party, Phil, Stu and Allan (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianikis) black out and wake up in their villa with a tiger locked in the bathroom, a baby in the closet, Stu missing a tooth and their friend Doug (Justin Bartha) nowhere to be found. This joyous celebration of blackout drunkenness grossed over $467 million worldwide and, of all the films on this list, is the one you should toss back before chasing it with the sequel in theaters this weekend.