Imagine you’re in the desert. You just paid a drug dealer $80K, your best friend is missing and he’s about to get married. Before calling it quits and ruining the bride-to-be’s life, think to yourself: what would Phil, Stu and Alan do?
"The Hangover" turns 10 this summer. Along with the anniversary of the award-winning comedy comes the memories of weddings past and the excitement of future celebrations around the corner.
While many see “The Hangover” as a horror story for what could go wrong during a bachelor party in Las Vegas, we choose to examine the film as an educational production that groomsmen young and old can learn from. Here’s our list of 50 lessons about how to be a good groomsman.
1. “Never Walk Away from the Table When You’re on a Heater”
Wise words from Sid, Jeffrey Tambor, Tracy’s father. Tambor batted 1.000 in this movie with every one-liner hitting the mark. I couldn’t imagine a better father-in-law, especially one that allows you to drive his 1965 Mercedes-Benz 220SE *bites knuckle*. As witty as this line seems, it actually has real value as gambling advice if the wedding party choose to scratch some velvet to release the tension of the wedding week.
2. Immerse Yourself in a New Group of People
We were introduced to Alan, Zach Galifianakis’ character, in the second scene of the movie when he offers secrecy to Doug, played by Justin Bartha, even if they kill somebody. Although it’s a little extreme, Alan is displaying the type of loyalty and psychopathic energy that sets the stage for what’s to come from this Golden Globe-winning film. If you find yourself surrounded by strangers, remind them that whatever happens, you won’t speak a word of it to anybody.
3. The Brutal Truth About the Potential Dangers of Adultery
Again Sid blesses us with age-old advice about the dangers of Las Vegas and a certain venereal disease that tends to hang around long after you depart Sin City.
4. Remember Your Toiletries
Stu’s girlfriend Melissa, played by Rachel Harris, delivers a lesson early in the film when she tells Stu (Ed Helms) to bring his Rogaine. A weekend with the boys is no excuse to slack off on personal hygiene rituals, fellas. Pack your toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, some form of soap and fresh underwear all in one bag. And most importantly, bring an extra for the Groom in case he forgets.
5. A Little White Lie Never Killed Anybody
Bachelor parties have an unfair reputation of being too wild and out of control — probably because of this movie. So it’s going to be natural for partners to worry and ask basic questions like "where are you going to stay?" You don’t have to lie to them, per se.
Now, if you’re going to Vegas, this is something you need to be upfront with your partner about. However, you don’t have to tell the whole truth if you’re staying somewhere like the Flamingo. For our characters in “The Hangover,” they’re staying at Ceasar’s Freaking Palace. This should give your partner a sense of security knowing you’re staying somewhere that isn’t a short step up from a Motel 6.
As for Stu? A winery in Napa Valley? This is a terrible cover up for where they’re actually going.
6. Openly Talk About Deficiencies in Each Other’s Relationships, Like That Bellhop, I Mean Bartender, Thing
This is more or less a strategy you can use as a groomsman to remind the groom how perfect his relationship is with his future Mrs. It’s important to not overstep your boundaries with this type of bullying. Your fellow groomsmen are going to help you make this the best wedding ever, so it’s vital you walk the line of groomsmen-shaming. As we see from “The Hangover,” Phil, Bradley Cooper’s character, plays this perfectly about the aforementioned Melissa.
If tempers do rise, defuse the situation with a beer and friendly conversation to remind the other groomsman you truly care about their well-being.
7. Work in Teams & Use a Spotter
“It’s not gambling when you know you’re going to win.” While Alan doesn’t deliver us the best blackjack advice, he does offer us a lesson on the importance of teamwork. Whether you’re using your superior height to adjust a fixture on the ceiling or moving chairs from the ceremony to reception, bring a spotter — it’ll be a foolproof system.
8. “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” Belongs on Your Playlist
Again, another rule that’s applicable to life outside of being a groomsman. And one that with which Galifianakis is well-acquainted.
9. Make Sure You Stay Somewhere Beeper-Friendly
Cell reception is important for flawless communication while working with your team of groomsmen. However, 5G isn’t available everywhere. If your team is camping or relaxing in a remote locale, bring walkie-talkies. Communication is key.
10. Always Upgrade to the Villa
If you’re lucky, your best friend will only get married once. Use this time as an excuse to extend your credit limit and live the weekend in luxury. Fellas need to treat themselves, too. And never let the groom chip in for the hotel room.
11. Let the Dogs Out
The final moments in your friend's single life are going to be spent with you, his groomsmen. There might be stress in the air, a little alcohol and excitement. It’s good to work off that energy with some light exercise like dancing or a mini adventure. Not only will this get everyone’s mind off what’s about to happen, but it will also put everyone’s mind at ease before a long ceremony where you need to stand still.
12. The Bride’s Brother Is Always the Wild Card
While letting the dogs out, keep an eye on this guy. The bride’s brother usually doesn’t know any of the groomsmen. Maybe they met briefly at a random summer get-together but other than that, he’s relatively unknown. Welcome them in with open arms or it’s going to get awkward. Making them feel comfortable will unleash the stress of the situation for him. Maybe you can get him to spend more time talking and less time drinking, saving everyone from an inebriated, binge-drinking mess.
13. Someone Needs to Bring a Man Purse, I Mean Satchel
Hat tip to Indiana Jones for this lesson. Bring your own leather bag with you to the bachelor party or wedding to hold things. Put the items in a bag, set it aside and take great wedding photos with bulge-free pants.
14. Always Find the Roof
“The Hangover” nails this lesson about how to be a good groomsman on the head. Roofs are an underrated setting for starting your night. You never wanna finish your night up there, but nothing establishes better energy than a beautiful skyline or incredible arrangement of stars.
15. Be Open to Accepting New Members Into Your Wolfpack
During his lengthy scripted toast, Alan famously says “Four of us wolves running around the desert together in Las Vegas looking for…” well you know the rest. This lesson ties neatly back with the bride’s brother being a wild card. While you might not know what he’ll do next, spending quality time with this individual at a wedding will go a long way.
16. Blood Pacts are Overrated
Just smoke some cigars instead.
17. Don’t Drug the Groom Less Than 48 Hours from the Wedding
Pro Tip: Say no to drugs. Say yes to pizza.
According to Groomsman Best Practices, you don’t need party enhancers to have a good time at a bachelor party. The guys could have saved themselves a lot of trouble by bringing their own flasks.
18. Especially With Ruphylin
19. The Groom Should Have Little-to-No Responsibility
This is a good metaphor for weddings. The groom is there to stand at attention and get married. The last thing he needs to worry about is an abandoned baby, a stolen pet (more on these later) or paying the hotel bill.
Doug had the lowest usage rate of any main character since Matt Damon in Saving Private Ryan. Like Private Ryan, Doug was used as a directive piece for the story’s narrative arch. He goes missing completely during a large chunk of the movie.
20. Jungle Cats Don’t Belong in the Bathroom
We all love our pets. The guys in "The Hangover" love cats, but always discuss with the bride and groom if they are acceptable during the wedding. If you have a dog, make sure you’re staying at a pet-friendly hotel.
21. Create a Childcare Strategy
Children are going to be at the wedding. Designate a baby-watcher, like Alan. Now the misstep here by our heroes is they recruited someone within the wedding party. Go outside the circle for this responsibility, but make sure you’re always a phone call away for providing relief. This is an important job during any wedding so tip them fairly.
We suggest something related to whiskey.
22. Brunch Is Always the Correct Answer
Weddings tend to be a 2-day affair when you’re in the wedding party. A good way to bridge the gap between rehearsal dinner the evening before and the ceremony the next day is brunch. It’s also a great way to kill your hangover with a mimosa or bloody mary.
23. Keep Furniture Inside the Room (Unless It’s a Chair Around an Innocent Bonfire)
Staying at somebody's villa, whether it’s an AirBnB or an expensive hotel, can create a carefree attitude toward the property around you. It’s a dangerous headspace to live in when you’re surrounded by furniture, tables, chairs and appliances you don’t own. It’s important to respect the property you’re in. And if you cannot bring yourself to respecting the furniture provided in your quarters, make sure the damage you do is repairable.
24. Get Creative With Your Transportation
Public transportation like buses and subways are readily available in every major city in America. If you want to class it up, you can always rent a limousine or party bus. While stealing a cop car is far down the list, apps like Lyft and Uber can get you where you need to go and will save you from being arrested.
25. Bring Your Sunglasses
26. If You Have a Head Injury, Go to the Hospital
If there are two major takeaways from “The Hangover,” it’s safety first and teamwork second. As the Wolfpack discovers while brunching, Phil made a trip to the hospital and was diagnosed with a mild concussion. Later, during the credits, we can conclude he got this concussion during a brawl with Wayne Newton. Stu, of course, threw a punch at the Vegas legend and Phil tried holding him back, thus causing the injury. The Wolfpack made the responsible choice by getting Phil checked by a doctor.
27. Don’t Steal the Spotlight from the Groom
Stu getting married less than 48 hours before Doug’s wedding is the type of power move your best friend DOESN’T do. The most out-of-line move you can make as a groomsman is stealing the spotlight from the couple. If you think it would be romantic to propose to your girlfriend the day or week of a wedding you’re going to be in, think again.
28. Don’t Match the Groom
The light Carolina-blue tuxedo is a great look for a group of groomsmen, but it shouldn’t match the groom. Instead, the guys should’ve brought along matching bottle openers.
29. Get the High Roller Package for Easy Commemorative Gifts That Make Good Memz
There aren’t many things Stu did during his time in Vegas that would classify him as a good role model. He did have a redeeming moment when he selected the high-roller package at Eddie’s wedding venue. Although we didn’t see it among the endless commemorative gifts from the wedding, we can safely assume the high-roller package included a killer groomsmen gift set that every member of the Wolfpack could appreciate.
30. Never Bring Your Grandmother’s Holocaust Ring to the Bachelor Party
… Or Anywhere.
There is a lot to unpack about the psychology of the Wolfpack through the movie but this part never makes sense. You have this sacred jewelry so you pack it in your bag for one night in Vegas? To show your friend? The audacity continues as you tell your friend (who is the groom) you’re going to propose to his girlfriend, who cheated on you, after the wedding ceremony? Stu is the worst.
31. Don’t Get Arrested
Here’s another great general rule for life. The Wolfpack somehow managed to avoid getting locked up their first night in Vegas. They weren’t so lucky the next day. A good rule of thumb is to never do anything illegal during the wedding. Sure, petty crimes are tempting, but the last thing you want is a little kid taking your photo (on a flip phone no less) while you sit in Loserville.
32. Always Take Advantage of a Comped Night at a Hotel
Any excuse to extend the party must be used. And when you’re searching for a missing groom, you need to buy as much time as possible.
33. Plan Ahead for Parking
When the Wolfpack leaves the Benz in the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard, it’s because of their lack of preparation. Parking can be a real stressor when you don’t plan ahead. If you’re traveling to an unfamiliar location, make sure you have a few parking places in mind so you don’t find yourself at the impound lot later in the day.
34. Being Tazed Is Not as Fun as it Sounds
If someone in your wedding party is a cop, remind them to leave their taser at home. The last thing you need to play with when the guys are together is a shocking device. As Rob Riggle playing Officer Franklin said:
“You're holding 50,000 volts, little man. Don't be afraid to ride the lightning.”
Be very afraid to ride the lightning with the wedding party. Play with some of these items instead.
35. Stay Positive
When you’re down on your luck, you’ve just been tased and you can’t find a member of your Wolfpack, you need to stay positive. Especially when you’re at the impound lot. Then, apologize for spreading negativity to other members of the party.
36. Always Check the Trunk of Your Car After Leaving it in the Lot Over Night
If you’re in an unfamiliar area, it’s hard to know what can possibly make its way into your trunk. Keep safety first by giving your trunk a quick check. This should be a no-brainer for those who have items such as crowbars that could be used against them.
37. Don’t Lose, Forget or Choose Not to Wear Pants
Alan and Leslie Chow are both seen pantless in “The Hangover.” Don’t be like Alan and Leslie Chow. Ever.
38. If You “Fudge Up” the Night Before, Be Honest About Your Mistake
But be careful apologizing to anyone outside of the Wolfpack. Only call the bride if absolutely necessary — like if you’ve wasted 18 hours looking for the groom.
39. Mike Tyson LOVES Phil Collins and So Should You
When you get the groomsmen together at the end of the night (preferably on the dance floor) somebody needs to grab a microphone and spin “In the Air Tonight”. You can thank Mike Tyson for what will ensue.
40. When in Doubt, Talk Sports
If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t know your fellow groomsmen very well, don’t hesitate to keep friendly conversation going with a little sports talk. You don’t have to go Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless on them, but a friendly debate about Mike Tyson’s legitimacy about being one of the best heavyweights of all time could spark a good discussion.
Think about it: This movie came out in 2009 when Tyson was 42. He smokes Alan and drops him immediately. Impressive? Well, he is a heavyweight champion boxer so you'd like to think he's one-and-done someone of Zach Galifinakis’s small 5’7’’ stature. But in the next scene, Alan is seasoning a steak. I don’t know about you, but if I got hit with a right that hard I don’t think I’d leave an ice bath for a week. Either Alan has an amazing chin, he’s still on drugs, or Tyson isn’t packing as much power as he used to?
41. Security Cameras See Everything
Never, under any circumstances, relieve yourself in a lavish pool because you don’t know who is watching. And if it’s Mike Tyson’s pool, don’t even look at it.
42. Dress to Impress
You always want to wear your Sunday Best when you’re headed to the ceremony or the Blackjack table. Something as simple as cufflinks will go a long way in impressing family, friends, and the pit boss.
43. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work at the Blackjack Table
When people think of the greatest blackjack players of all time, two people come to mind. Rain Man and Alan Garner. Read up on blackjack books when you’re off to a casino.
44. If You Lose a Friend, Check the Roof
Classic mixup from the Wolfpack. We generally don’t recommend returning to the scene of the crime, but if it happened to take place on top of a high building, you probably left something behind.
In hindsight, Doug really should've picked some better groomsmen gifts and maybe this entire thing could have been avoided. Here are some ideas:
45. Always Check Your Pockets the Next Morning
It’s normal to lose track of certain items after a long night socializing. Pockets are the go-to for mindless security while in public and sometimes they become forgotten and thrown in the laundry. For wedding parties, things like the ring or $80,000 of poker chips might be in your pants, so always be sure to remember to empty them out after a long night on the strip.
46. Tuxedo Delivery Services Are Very Reliable
"The Hangover" actually stumbled into something brilliant with the risky tuxedo delivery on Interstate 15. Today, wedding parties can relax knowing if someone bought the wrong color of tie, jacket or pants, you can have one delivered to you in no time. Places like The Black Tux will now deliver your suits when you need them.
47. Don’t Plan The Bachelor Party The Weekend Of the Wedding
No need to elaborate on this one.
48. Make Sure You Take Pictures
Oversharing has become an issue in our society. Not every photo from your experience as a groomsman needs to be uploaded online. Keep some of the wilder memories to yourself by either deleting them immediately or putting them in a picture frame. Some moments are meant to be shared and remembered by only those who were a part of the adventure.
49. How to Launch a Successful Acting Career
Before this movie, you probably recognized Bradley Cooper as Sack Lodge, the jerk boyfriend in “Wedding Crashers.” However, “The Hangover” was Cooper’s real coming-out party as a legitimate star. Cooper’s career skyrocketed after this 2009 film — Limitless, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, American Sniper and A Star Is Born and three Best Actor Oscar nominations. All of this success because of a doomed bachelor party to Las Vegas.
50. You and Your Fellow Groomsman Will Be Forever Connected Through the Power of a Wolfpack
Looking back at the 1 hour and 40 minutes of movie magic, what “The Hangover” really teaches us is the power of friendship. Not only did they teach us how to not handle ourselves at a bachelor party, but they also provided amazing lessons on how to be a good groomsman and even better friends. And that’s who you want flanking you on your wedding day — your unbreakable Wolfpack.