The Hangover
dir Todd Phillips
scr Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
with Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Heather Graham, Justin Bartha, Jeffrey Tambor, Ken Jeong, Mike Epps, Sasha Barrese, Rachael Harris, Matt Walsh, Mike Tyson
release US 5.Jun.09, UK 12.Jun.09
09/US Warner 1h50
The Hangover
The morning after: Galifianakis, Cooper and Helms

graham bartha tambor
See also:
The Hangover Part II (2011) The Hangover Part III (2013)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Hangover It's not very sophisticated, but this raucous comedy keeps us laughing with its sheer absurdity. The characters are very well-played and their interaction is genuinely hilarious, even if most of the jokes are pretty cheap.

Two days before his wedding, Doug (Bartha) heads for a Vegas stag weekend with best pals Phil and Stu (Cooper and Helms) and future brother-in-law Alan (Galifianakis). But after the first wild night, they wake up unable to remember what happened. Mike Tyson's tiger is in the bathroom, one of them is married, there's a crying baby in the corner, the classic Mercedes loaned by Doug's father-in-law (Tambor) has been replaced by a police car, and the groom is missing. And piecing together the momentous events is an adventure.

It's great fun following these three lively men through a string of clues that lead them to a wedding chapel, Tyson's house and encounters with goofy cops, a happy stripper (Graham), an angry mobster (Jeong) and a beefy drug dealer (Epps). The story is utterly ridiculous, as the screenwriters constantly stir in unpredictably wacky plot turns that seem to come from thin air. And the dialog isn't very clever, packed with homophobic language and jokes that rely on vulgarity or laughing at fat people rather than actual comedy.

But Cooper, Helms and Galifianakis make a terrific team, riotously riffing off each other and the rest of the cast. These are thoroughly engaging characters we can root for; Galifianakis is especially funny, with his unpredictable rhythms and random speeches. All three dive fully into the general insanity of the narrative, which spirals off in haphazard directions that are very loosely wrangled back into a vague semblance of sense at the end.

This is one of those movies that's perfectly designed for a boys' night out, when all you want to do is laugh. There's a kind of strained attempt at a message at the end, as well as a general attitude toward morality that kind of undermines the overall debauchery, but the target audience won't care about these things. You'll giggle at the rude jokes and off-colour antics, vicariously enjoying a weekend you can never experience and emerging, like our heroes, relatively unscathed.

cert 15 themes, strong language, sexuality, violence 15.May.09

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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall