The Hangover II, Sex and the City, and More: Ugly Americans on Screen
The Hangover Part II is far from the first flick in which Americans behave badly abroad—remember National Lampoon’s European Vacation, Sex and the City 2, and Eurotrip? WATCH VIDEO of nine movies and TV shows that showcase our most notorious export: ugly Americans.
The Hangover Part II Heads to Bangkok
Brace yourself, Thailand: The wolf pack has arrived. In the first movie, The Hangover, three groomsman head to Las Vegas to celebrate their friend’s bachelor party, but after Alan (Zach Galifianakis), the groom’s soon-to-be brother-in-law, roofies their drinks, the night takes a harrowing turn. Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Alan awaken in a hotel suite to find a baby in the closet and Mike Tyson’s tiger in the bathroom—but the groom, Doug (Justin Bartha), is nowhere to be found. The three retrace their steps from the previous night on the strip, discovering that in their drunken state they stole $80,000 from a naked gangster, Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong), that Stu—who wakes up sans a front tooth—married a hooker, Jade (Heather Graham), and that the baby, in fact, belongs to her. The 2009 flick made over $277 million at the box office and won the Golden Globe for best comedy or musical, so why ship the bromance abroad? The sequel follows the same formula as its predecessor, with Stu as the groom-to-be, plus a new element of cultural insensitivity. Even the trailer is rife with stupid Americanisms: when the gang walks through a monastery, Alan wonders out loud, “What is this, a PF Chang's?”
Sex and the (Middle Eastern) City
In Sex and the City 2, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her Manolo-heeled gal pals head to Abu Dhabi for a jaw-droppingly opulent trip—materialism that can’t be contained by Manhattan alone. Though Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) drag Carrie to Mexico after she’s stood up at the alter in the franchise’s big-screen debut, the cringe-inducing behavior is at least contained to Charlotte’s stomach issues after she accidentally drinks the water. The sequel takes the ugliness to a whole new level in the United Arab Emirates, where Samantha is arrested for frolicking on a beach with a man and subsequently throws a temper tantrum in the middle of a marketplace, shoving condoms into the faces of onlookers. Maybe SATC 2’s brashness didn’t go unnoticed. It made $25 million less than the original over opening weekend and the New York Times called it “ silly and strained.”
Real World’s Cancun Misconduct
If The Hangover has a less charming real-life counterpart, it might just be MTV’s Real World. The show that once humanized AIDS and gave young people a public forum to discuss their differences has devolved into a booze-fueled, drama-filled mainstay for the network. Real World seasons have taken place in Paris, London, and Sydney, and the producers send each cast on a vacation, but none compares to the hedonism that was the Real World: Cancun, where Señor Frog’s was the closest the cast got to a cultural institution. Watch the cast up the rude ante when they get into a brawl at a restaurant—and spit into each other’s tacos.
Eurotrip’s Unholy Gaffe
The plot of 2004’s Eurotrip plays like Murphy’s Law incarnate: What can go wrong does, and it’s all because of thoughtless Americans. When recent high school graduate Scott (Scott Mechlowicz) is dumped by his girlfriend, he travels across Europe, along with three friends, in search of his buxom German pen pal, Meike. From England to Bratislava to Italy, they pull out all the stops, upsetting the locals, binging on absinthe, and hitting up brothels. Finally, when they reach Rome, where Meike is on vacation, they accidentally ring Saint Marco’s bell in the Vatican, which signals that the pope has died. But that’s not all: Scotty’s friend, Cooper (Jacob Pitts), then tries on the pope’s garb, accidentally setting the pontiff’s miter on fire. With this flick getting a 46 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the most valuable thing to come out of it was the popular song “ Scotty Doesn’t Know,” which chronicles how Scotty’s ex-girlfriend cheated on him.
Ace Ventura’s Tribal Fight
Jim Carrey’s role as a Miami pet detective might have worked wonders for his career, but didn’t exactly position him as a cultural ambassador. After rescuing a dolphin in the first flick, Ace heads to the fictional African country Nibia in the sequel, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, to solve the case of a missing bat. Armed with the arsenal of his obnoxious catch phrases—“alllllrighty then”—Ace angers the local tribes in pursuit of the bat, which they consider sacred, earning him the nickname “White Devil.” Carrey was nominated for a Razzie for playing the detective who eventually sets things right, though not before he mocks the local culture in a tribal brawl.
Amazing Race and the Country of London
In The Amazing Race, teams of two compete in different tasks that span the globe for a prize at their final destination. The clues are often puzzling, the tasks complicated, and the transportation methods dubious—and that’s without considering the language barrier. Still the show, which boasts 12 Emmys, reveals Americans serious shortcomings when it comes to basic geographic knowledge. Over the course of the show, countless cast members have talked down to the locals, barked cab drivers directions, and made other blunders about their destinations, (not to mention, fallen victim to a slingshot watermelon), most notably one team who thought they were in the country of London. The Amazing Race: Revealing serious gaps in the American education system since 2001.
National Lampoon’s Bavarian Dance-Off
The second in the series, National Lampoon’s European Vacation chronicles the Griswalds’ whirlwind vacation as they wreak havoc on nearly every country they visit in Europe. Variety called the tourists “ tiresome and predictable” and Chevy Chase’s character, Clark, “boorish.” And, boorish is right: Clark backs his car into Stonehenge, speaks awful French, and in this video, starts a huge brawl in the middle of a Bavarian dance performance.
Beerfest’s Boozy Hijinks
A stolen beer recipe, a boot-shaped glass, and a secret drinking competition might be the holy trinity for potential obnoxious behavior. If there were any doubt, Beerfest is proof: To fulfill their grandfather’s dying wish, brothers Jan (Paul Soter) and Todd Wolfhouse (Erik Stolhanske) travel to Munich to spread his ashes. On their trip, they make a detour to an underground drinking competition where they discover the German team has a beef with them: Their grandfather allegedly stole a prized beer recipe. A year later, the brothers return to defeat the Germans in a drink-off, the prize being the recipe. Entertainment Weekly gave the party flick a B+ and praised it for its “R-rated puerility for actual immature grown-ups.” But it’s not that nice: The brothers start drunken fights, one of their teammates dies from drinking too much beer, and in this video, they cause a keg to fall on a child.
American Tourists In Ruins
In My Life In Ruins, travel guide Georgia (Nia Vardalos) tries to get back her “mojo” by leading a trip through Greece. This search leads the tourists to fall into every conceivable uncouth trap, between making fun of the Greek bus driver’s name—only to find out later that he speaks English—to obsessing over souvenirs, instead of historical monuments. Roger Ebert called Vardalos’ sleeper My Big Fat Greek Wedding “ warm hearted,” but didn’t have such kind words for Ruins. Ebert called the tourists “ teeth-gratingly broad and obvious”.