From silent-era films earning laughs at the antics of liquored-up louts, to sobering award-winning portrayals of addiction in movies like The Lost Weekend and Leaving Las Vegas, alcohol has always made for intoxicating entertainment in Hollywood.
Now, with the unavoidable hype building around The Hangover (in theatres June 5), alcohol may once again come to the forefront leaving the Las Vegas-set comedy with a lot of admirers.
However, in spite of all the laughs in this knee-slapper about a trio of stag-party pals searching for their lost, besotted groom, a question is being raised — are films featuring alcohol-use doing more harm than good? There’s a movement that thinks so.
In fact, a recent survey by Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire has found that almost 42 per cent of parents agreed that the appearance of alcohol consumption should warrant a movie the dreaded “R” rating.
While concerned guardians don’t have to worry about The Hangover (although it’s American R, rating varies province to province in Canada), the comedy was not likely branded that in the U.S. because of scenes involving booze.
Surprisingly, the Motion Picture Association of America (which rates movies) doesn’t reportedly take alcohol into account among its rating factors.
Perhaps more surprising was the fact that parents in the study seemed more concerned about alcohol-consumption than smoking on film despite past research linking the risk of teen smoking to the cinema.
According to lead author Meghan Longacre, that attitude may reflect “a greater concern with the negative consequences of teen drinking that may seem more immediate and dire to parents, such as drinking and driving, compared to the longer-term health consequences of smoking.”
While nobody is saying The Hangover should be avoided, it’s important to note it is entertainment that’s intended for older audiences. Still, there’s no denying the film contains the kind of humour that will inevitably appeal to younger audiences and critics say that is what rating-boards should be wary of.
Regardless, alcohol-use on film is still mostly portrayed as a weakness or warning so no matter how much fun audiences have watching The Hangover, the message will still inevitably be the same — drink too much and you might lose friends.