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Sunday, 7 June 2009

The Hangover, 2009 - Movie Review

Director: Todd Phillips
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Heather Graham, Mike Tyson, Jeffrey Tambor
Running Time: 100 minutes
Score: 7 / 10

This review by C-Younkin

"The Hangover" is the work of Todd Phillips. You know him. He made "Road Trip". He also made "Old School." Getting a bunch of buddies together and throwing in sex, drugs, beer, and all kinds of frat-boy hi-jinx is a formula that's served him well in the past and it does the same here. At the outset the movie is simple. One wild night followed by a couple days of trying to figure out what happened. It's a buddy comedy and mystery, reminiscent of "Dude, Where's My Car", except this movie happens to be funny.

The cast is mostly unknown but Phillips has worked with that before. Comedy is about chemistry, not big stars commanding big paychecks. Bradley Cooper (last seen in "He's Just Not that Into You"), Ed Helms ("The Daily Show") and Zach Galifianakis (idk, "This") play Phil, Stew, and Alan, three guys taking their buddy Doug (Justin Bartha) out to Vegas for his bachelor party. Phil and Stew are the best buddies, Alan is Doug's mentally-askew soon-to-be-brother in-law. After a wild night, the three guys wake up the next day to a trashed hotel room and several odd, unexplained phenoms. They find a baby in the closet, a tiger in the bathroom, and Doug is nowhere to be found. Other mysteries include why did Stew marry a stripper (Heather Graham), why are Asian mobsters after them, and dude, where's the car? The guys must retrace their steps to figure out the night and also find Doug.

Fresh surprises keep coming as the story moves along. Some, like the baby and the marriage to the stripper are missed opportunities, but for the most part they're pretty hilarious. The tiger is a great bit, as are the Asian mobsters. What happens to be lying in the trunk of the car is another good one. What powers it all is that the guys remember nothing of the night before. The movie is like a fish-out-of water tale, just replace the water with Jagermeister and roofies. Phillips ties it all together with crude laughs that nonetheless come off very funny. Masturbation, sex, drugs, stun-guns, f-words, condoms, and a couple of baby gags that I'm pretty sure will cement his place in hell but still make people laugh pretty hard are just a few things in his comic arsenal.

The three guys are great together. Allan is awkwardly clueless, unpredictable, and a little crazy. His speech, inviting the guys into his "wolf pack of one", is fantastic, as is what comes after that. The chubby and fully-bearded Zach Galifianakis is a scene stealer. Stew is the opposite, a guy so whipped into submission by his girlfriend that they might as well share brains. He's a nervous nerd prone to unraveling at the first sign of pressure. And Phil is the cool, clear-headed straight-man to the other two who get most of the laughs. Cooper, Helms, and Galifianakis know their roles well and convince that these three very different guys could actually be friends. The supporting cast, which includes Rob Riggle, Rachel Harris, Mike Epps, and Mike Tyson (in a very funny cameo) help out as well, but the best one comes from Ken Jeong, playing Mr. Chow, leader of the Asian mob. His flamboyance and exaggerated speech make him a ridiculously quirky villain.

"The Hangover" is a comic adventure well worth taking and when it finishes, don't leave yet cause you'll miss the hilarious trip photos playing over the closing credits. The movie is fresh, lively, fast-paced, and the cast is all game. Drink it up. It's a lot of fun.

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