Is "The Hangover" Really The Most Successful R-Rated Comedy Ever?

Is "The Hangover" Really The Most Successful R-Rated Comedy Ever?

Is "The Hangover" Really The Most Successful R-Rated Comedy Ever?

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
July 21 2009 1:54 PM

Is "The Hangover" Really The Most Successful R-Rated Comedy Ever?

A guest post from Slate contributor Zachary Pincus-Roth:

/blogs/browbeat/2009/07/21/is_the_hangover_really_the_most_successful_r_rated_comedy_ever/jcr:content/body/slate_image

After writing a piece for Slate on how journalists proclaim movie box-office records without accounting for inflation, I'm disheartened to see inaccurate reports —fueled by a Warner Bros. press release—that The Hangover 's $236 million pushes it past Beverly Hills Cop as the top domestic R-rated comedy of all time.

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In reality, if you factor in the rise in ticket prices, The Hangover earned less than half of Beverly Hills Cop 's total, and it's also behind other R-rated comedies such as Blazing Saddles , MASH , National Lampoon's Animal House , Beverly Hills Cop II , There's Something About Mary , and even Porky's , according to Box Office Mojo .

I really liked The Hangover (as did 79 percent of critics, according to Rotten Tomatoes ), so it's hard to be the naysayer here. It was made on the cheap and features a likable trio of rising stars. It's all too easy to believe that it could dethrone a film made a quarter-century ago by the fading star Eddie Murphy, whose movie Imagine That tanked this summer. But—as any Economics 101 class would surely convince you—it didn't.

What's particularly galling is that this "achievement" has been mentioned in the same breath as Warner's assertion that passing the $1 billion mark at the 2009 domestic box office in only 192 days is a studio record. Again, because of inflation, we can expect this record to be broken almost every year. These misleading statistics demonstrate how a peccadillo on the part of journalists and publicists can skew the perception of an entire company.

— Zachary Pincus-Roth

Photograph of The Hangover actor Ed Helms courtesy Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

Juliet Lapidos is a staff editor at the New York Times.