The Hangover (2009)
Rated – R
Directed by Todd Phillips
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis
The first comedy of the summer movie season is a hell of a good one. I laughed a lot, partly due to the ridiculous situations and partly due to the excellent blend of personalities among the characters and sub-characters. The premise is golden: three friends take the to-be-groom to Las Vegas for his bachelor party, only to wake up the next day with no memory of last night and without the groom. So it’s a race against time to find the groom so he can attend his wedding, which almost turns into a race against time because they don’t know if he’s seconds from death.
The opening sequence has Phil (Cooper) talking with the fiance where he tells her that there’s no way the wedding is happening. Phil along with three other guys, none of whom is Doug (the groom), are seemingly stranded in the middle of a desert. Flash back two days ago where the adventure is just getting started.
Doug is the typical good guy who is happily getting married. He takes along Alan (Galifianakis) to the bachelor party along with his two best friends Phil and Stu (Ed Helms). Phil is a elementary school teacher who uses his students’ trip money to bulk his pocket up for the party and who jokes about hating his life and his family. Stu is a kind but fragile individual who constantly is bullied by his girlfriend of three years. And then there’s Alan who is weird and creepy but lovable at the same time. These four guys get to Las Vegas, purchase a suite for $4,200 a night, take a few Jagermeister shots on the roof of their hotel, and then blackout.
The following scene is one of the more hilarious ones of the entire film. One by one, they slowly wake up in their suite and discover the chaotic state the room is left in. There’s a tiger in the bathroom, a chicken, Stu’s missing a tooth, a baby, and a missing groom. The rest of the film shows this trio of funny guys piecing the night back together in order to find their friend.
To me, I felt that The Hangover was a very risky film while being very safe at the same time. They certainly pushed the boundaries of the R-rating to its limit, but meanwhile it never strayed from the buddy-film formula. I’m not saying that’s a fault of the film, but it’s not a strength either.
The actor that stood out the most from the group of leading men was Zach Galifianakis. Though he had the best written part of the movie, he didn’t miss his opportunity and nailed it. Will this be the 39-year-old’s breakthrough performance to more comedies in the future? I sure hope so.
Overall, The Hangover supplied more than enough laughs to kick off the comedy genre of this summer. Will it be the best comedy of the year? Too early to tell with other R-rated movies like Bruno and Funny People coming out this summer. But The Hangover is a laugh-out-loud experience powered by Galifianakis. And if you didn’t find yourself laughing that much during the movie, the still photos during the credits will definitely tickle your funny bone.