Episode 152: Bradley Cooper! You Come Home This Instant!

The Overthinkers tackle The Hangover

Matthew Wrather hosts with Pete Fenzel, Josh McNeil, David Shechner, and regular guest Timothy Swann to overthink The Hangover Part 2.


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16 Comments on “Episode 152: Bradley Cooper! You Come Home This Instant!”

  1. cat #

    Oh, Ophelia…

    Shechner should be allowed to talk whenever he wants because that was a great pun. OK, not really but it’s late/early and sleep-deprived me found it HILARIOUS.

    I don’t have a lot to say that isn’t about gender *hint hint* New episode of the TFT podcast, please. But since last week’s episode sort of touched on the tradition of male bonding, did you find this movie to be more traditional and primitive or more revolutionary and modern? I ask because all the discussions of the body and the grotesque and the lack of change/development of the characters seem reminiscent of earlier genres at least in literature.


  2. Pasteur #

    The premise is introduced entertainingly enough, the duration is simply… endurable, but then the climax pays off in spades. Kind of like The Hangover, I suppose. If you brought up the Downeaster ‘Alexa’ every week, we would never stop listening. Looking forward to the article next week.

    On horcruxes/polygamy, if I’m not mistaken, your soul does not per se “weaken” with each progressive one, does it? Although, this is more a statement of how HP-magic is somewhat more substantive than an individual’s personal “soul” in the context of feelings or character; which in itself a sticky wicket of cartesian dualism and metaphysical naturalism that probably isn’t worth getting into here.
    However, to cross the streams of nerdery: Pete, how would you differentiate Shadow Clones from Horcruxes in terms of personal essence & plurality?


    • cat #

      It’s been a while since I read the last 1 or 2 books but my understanding is that a soul is like a pie chart. That soul can be divided so that there are different sections distributed in horcruxes which does not weaken the soul but makes the soul inhabiting a body (instead of a horcrux) less soul-like. For instance, instead of a whole soul, you have 1/4 of a soul because the other 3/4 are contained within horcruxes. This then becomes all metaphorical and makes you less human and more evil and all of that. Anyway, the destruction of horcruxes DOES weaken the soul because instead of sectioning off pieces of the pie chart (and coloring them in pretty neon shades) you are eliminating parts of the pie chart and soul so it starts to resemble PacMan.

      So therefore, no, polygamy is not like horcruxes, unless you want to follow the analogy and say that dividing yourself and taking multiple wives does not weaken the soul but the elimination of said wives and the parts of your soul devoted to each wife does weaken the soul. Which is very morbid and I’m sorry for going there even in the name of overthinking.


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      “Pete, how would you differentiate Shadow Clones from Horcruxes in terms of personal essence & plurality?”

      Wow, this question is awesome :-)

      The main difference is in the relationship between soul/chakra and the body. In Harry Potter, the soul is normative and associated with virtue and ethics – splitting up your soul damages your humanity, your compassion, your kindness, depth of feeling, well-being. Having more or better soul makes you a better person. Bad souls or out-of-touch souls are characteristic of bad people.

      In Naruto, chakra is not in itself good or bad – there is yin chakra and yang chakra, there is chakra with propensities toward different elements or animals, and there are definitely “evil” chakras, but a bad guy needs just as much access to his “soul” as a good guy does – and the top bad guys have extraordinarily strong souls indeed.

      In Harry Potter, the main effect of damage to the soul, right up to its destruction, is to a person’s spiritual well-being. Up until the point where you destroy the parts of the soul, splitting up the soul is strictly advantageous – it makes you stronger at little or no cost – unless you count that in the Harry Potter universe being a bad or uncompassionate person is generally going to come back and bite you at some point because everybody needs help from their friends at critical moments and jerks are less likely to get it.

      In this way, the Harry Potter soul is dualistic – it has a relationship to the body, but it doesn’t occupy the same space the body occupies and doesn’t have to in order to fulfill its role.

      In Naruto, ninjas with especially strong “souls” (chakras) can split up into “shadow clones” that can launch multiple attacks at once or cooperate to take down an enemy. We only see a few ninjas do it – many ninjas create clones or reflections of themselves out of water or earth or the other elements as distractions, feints, or weapons, but the few ninjas that use shadow clones create the clones out of their own essence. Naruto, the protagonist, can do this from childhood because he has an extraordinarily powerful chakra by luck of his birth (and because he has a demon who lives inside of him), despite being undertrained and kind of stupid.

      Off the top of my head, the other most notable use of shadow clones is by Sarutobi the Third Hokage (leader of the Hidden Leaf Ninja Village in the Land of Fire) when he is attempting the Reaper Death Seal on Orochimaru, the evil snake guy (trying to explain this to non-Naruto folks; probably not worth it). We know that Kakashi doesn’t generally like to do it, because despite being very skilled and knowledgeable, his shakra drains too quickly.

      Anyway, in Naruto, the more powerful a technique is, the greater a risk it carries (they are sort of blase about this rule, but in this case they observe it). The risk of using shadow clones is you divvy up your spiritual strength among your clones. While they seem reasonably physically strong, they each only have 1/(n+1) of your chakra, where n is the number of shadow clones, and you also have only 1/(n+1) of your chakra.

      This has two drawbacks – it weakens your ability to use special techniques, because you have less spiritual energy, and it increases your risk of dying, because if you run out of chakra, you die.

      So, yeah, when you use a horcrux and split your soul, you stay the same, except you become kind of a bastard, and you gain immortality. And then people destroy parts of your soul, and your soul gradually weakens until they destroy everything and you die.

      But if you use a Shadow Clone to split your chakra, you are already weaker as soon as you split your chakra. When your shadow clones are destroyed, your strength comes back to you pretty quickly. But you yourself would be easier to kill.

      The Third Hokage can only summon two shadow clones to fight Orochimaru because he is getting older and his strength is failing him. By contrast, at least once, Naruto summons hundreds of clones, presumably dividing his chakra into hundreds of pieces and greatly diminishing his own strength.

      But he doesn’t care, because he has tons of energy and isn’t going to be defeated until he becomes Hokage. Believe it!!! And all that.

      So, yeah, the interesting piece here is about the soul as a locus of the strength of the body – in Harry Potter, the soul is a vulnerability, but an important one – vulnerability itself is important; it’s part of being human. In Naruto, the soul is a weapon. It is an aspect of the Will, of Life Force, of your ability to make things happen in the world. There is no trade-off to having more of it, and even though you can split and deploy it in various strategically advantageous ways, having less of it is always bad.

      You could trace this back into Nietzsche and say that Naruto is more of a honest kind of character, more sinerely glorious, aspiring toward the Ubermensch – that he feels no shame in his strength and does not associate morality with weakness – whereas in Harry Potter, Harry and his friends and the whole batch of puddingheaded, senimtental wizards are the sheep (with the Muggles that Harry loves to protect being the worst kind of sheep) and Lieutenant Commander Noseless is the bird of prey. Framed that way, the whole arc of the books is an unjust story of the weak chaining up the strong through a series of elaborate and arcane devices and rules that corrupt the Will and are not to be admired.


      • fenzel OTI Staff #

        I’ll add that I’m not quite well-versed enough in Dharmic tradition, Taoism and Shinto to fully synthesize the stew of ideas in Naruto, which are comfortable to Japanese people, with the stew of ideas in Harry Potter, which are comfrotable to Brits and Americans. Neitzsche is just one the places where the ideas intersect.

        You could also say that even as the chakra in Naruto is less differentiable from the body than the soul in Harry potter, the chakra in Naruto is more differentiable from the phenomenological self than the soul in the latter – that when you destroy a shadow clone, you’re not destroying part of Naruto, you’re counteracting some of what he is trying to do.

        Even if you drain all of Naruto’s chakra and he dies, the phenomenological self persists in a dark realm of some sort – as in Shinto, even though most people who practice Shinto in Japan turn to Buddhism to deal with death – if draining all a ninja’s shakra was the same thing as destroying his soul, Orochimaru’s and Kabuto’s Impure World Resurrection technique would not work. Whereas you get the sense that once He Who Must Not Be Named No Really Don’t Do It has his soul destroyed (and I’m not, um, saying that necessarily happens in the books or movies, um, no spoilers from me), it’s really destroyed.


        • Rocky #

          Gosh, I wish I would have had that inofmration earlier!


  3. Covington Jim #

    I think the party zeppelin might really be a practical business idea. It could trigger the imminent airship renaissance.

    An unending version of the idea appears in the Hitchhiker’s Guide series (I forget which book), as the floating building turned into a party barge by rogue engineers.


    • Pasteur #

      Life, the Universe, and Everything,(chapters 19 & 20) which features the great “pie-eyed” time signature joke.


  4. Brian #

    I also thought the Billy Joel was diegetic from Zack’s ipod, implying it was on repeat for the whole 16 hour flight, which is totally within his character. It felt like Zach’s character, with his multiple references to fear of change and wanting things the play the same way every time, was poking fun at the “Just So Stories” nature of The Hangover 2. Which critics rag on but the audience obviously wanted this story “just so,” and not everything needs to be The Dark Knight.

    People keep talking about how shocking the movie is, I thought the biggest shock was seeing Paul Giamatti, blame Mrs. Doubtfire and 4chan but trannies aren’t a big deal- It’s a trap!

    It just seemed the character reaction shots were played bigger to impress there was more crazy all over the place- it felt more cuing how the audience should react, unlike South Park or It’s Always Sunny where shocks are from ideas coming to ahead and let the audience react. Idk, I guess that’s part of the fun of this movie is knowing your role and having rehearsed it with part one and sharing the reaction more than watching a reaction that’s opposite.


    • Timothy J Swann #

      I was going to suggest that he had one of the 800% slowed down versions of songs that are presently so popular, but because of the weirdness of his perceptions we perceive it as sounding normal. But I didn’t get my oar in while the point was fresh.


      • Brian #

        I was into slowed down music before it was cool, I’ve been listening to an authentic John Cage remix of I’m Too Sexy since ‘92 that doesn’t end till 2158 and dat shit way doper then what these tweeny posers doing today, word to yo mother.


  5. Covington Jim #

    I just read on IO9 that Bradley Cooper is a huge fan of the Hyperion books, and has written a story treatment with a friend to get funding to film them.

    Having assumed he was closer to the personality of his wedding crashers character, I’m happy to be so wrong.


    • Timothy J Swann #

      I’ve heard they’re having to condense Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion (which is one of my favourite books) into one movie lasting ‘only’ two hours… which means there’s a fair deal of hard work to do to make them work.


      • Covington Jim #

        Ouch. I guess they’d have to drop half the pilgrim’s tales, at the very least. An HBO series seems like a better match for the story. Since Simmons uses different genre techniques in each tale, they could even make a selling point of having a different big name director do each episode.

        To avoid the pacing shift to Fall, several of the tales could be shifted to multi-layer flashbacks through the telling to the backstory.


        • Timothy J Swann #

          As an author, I’ve stopped hoping for a film adaptation and started hoping for a TV mini-series. All of the actors I had already fantasy-cast for the main parts were TV actors anyhow. How odd.


  6. Chris #

    I like Billy Joel. I’m very much for a Billy Joel revitalization. I’ve also seen the Holmes and Freud movie that was mentioned. Alan Arkin plays Freud! Robert Duvall plays Watson! Laurence Olivier plays Moriarity! Somebody I’ve never heard of and whose name I can’t recall plays Holmes! I think his first name was Christopher but I could be mistaken! It’s a good movie but pretty far down the line in terms of Sherlock Holmes based entertainment! Speaking of which, I was really disappointed in that PBS Sherlock mini-series! Admittedly, it’s not on topic, but it crossed my mind and I thought I’d mention it!

    I haven’t seen either part of The Hangover, but nothing about it appeals to me. However, the first part did inspire a hilarious statement from Paul F. Tompkins as Andrew Lloyd Webber in which he talked about how much he enjoyed the female characters in the film.


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