Bradley Cooper is exceptional at playing the cool jerk that viewers can't help but love.
In "The Hangover" and "The Hangover Part II," his character Phil Wenneck is "that guy," the former high school football star-type women still swoon over. It's hard to imagine Cooper not always being a Phil Wenneck, even in real life.
But Cooper is not "that guy." He's just good at acting like it. His earnest grilling of Sean Penn on "Inside the Actors Studio" when he was 23 proves that, as does "Silver Linings Playbook" and his feature-film debut: 2001's "Wet Hot American Summer."
"WHAS," which has developed a rabid cult following in the decade since its release, starred numerous former members of the MTV sketch-comedy show "The State," as well as (then) young up-and-comers Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Elizabeth Banks and Judah Friedlander.
Cooper played Ben, a Camp Firewood counselor who at first seems like just another uptight prick with a silver spoon in his mouth. His co-counselor Susie (Poehler) appears to be cut from the same cloth and practically throws herself at him, but he couldn't be farther from interested. That's because Ben only has eyes for one person at the camp: McKinley (Michael Ian Black).
Ben and McKinley's relationship soon escalates from naughty trysts in the sporting-equipment shed to a marriage ceremony that today is only recognized by five states and Washington D.C. If you're used to thinking of Bradley Cooper as "that guy," then seeing him totally sucking face with Michael Ian Black may be more shocking to you than anything in "The Hangover" and "The Hangover Part II" combined.
(Originally published on May 27, 2011)