The Hangover

Ealasaid/ June 8, 2009/ Movie Reviews and Features

Directed by: Tod Phillips
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zack Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Heather Graham
Rated: R for pervasive language, sexual content including nudity, and some drug material.
Parental Note: This is not a film for kids. It’s gleefully vulgar and packed with adults behaving badly.

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Alcohol and bachelor parties have a long and notorious history together, and most folks seem to have stories about the crazy things they or one of their male friends did at a pre-wedding bacchanal. “The Hangover” takes all those stories and inflates them almost to the breaking point, stopping just shy of utter surreality.
The film opens with Phil (Bradley Cooper) calling his best buddy’s fiance on the morning of her wedding to tell her that he and the other groomsmen messed up: Doug (Justin Bartha) is missing. They lost him during the bachelor party weekend.
Flash back two days and Doug is getting everything together for his weekend with the boys. His father-in-law-to-be loans him a beautiful Mercedes, warning him to take good care of it. This is, of course, a bad sign. Doug’s brother-in-law-to-be, Alan (Zack Galifianakis), an odd, awkward guy who appears to have been born an outcast, goes with him to pick up the others. Phil is a schoolteacher — but not the nice, inspiring kind. He’s been telling his students to bring $90 for the upcoming observatory field trip, then putting the cash in his “Vegas” envelope. Stu (Ed Helms) is a dentist with an overbearing, unpleasant girlfriend — he’s told her they’re going to wine country.
Where they’re actually going, of course, is Las Vegas. They check in at Caesar’s Palace, springing for a $4,200 a night villa suite, then head up to the roof to admire the view and share shots of Jaegermeister. After that… well, after that, they wake up in the suite. It’s the next morning. They’re down one bridegroom and up a missing tooth, a tiger, a crying baby, a couple of chickens, and three very horrible hangovers. They can’t remember what happened, but they have to find Doug.
In the course of retracing their steps they meet interesting people, including Jade (Heather Graham) a stripper Stu apparently married; Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), a very short and very mean mobster type; and Mike Tyson. The tiger is his, and he’s surprisingly nice about the fact that it got stolen by a bunch of guys on a bachelor party bender.
The characters are all fairly standard comedy trope types, but they’re handled well. These aren’t stupid guys, really, just sort of average. Stu is a bit self-aggrandizing but ultimately a pushover: he likes to tell people he’s a doctor, but Phil is always quick to point out that he’s just a dentist. Phil is often a bad influence, but he’s also the sort who’ll also tell you to your face that your girlfriend is a horrible person and you should dump her (so far, sadly, Stu has not listened to him). Alan is just plain weird, but likeable in spite of it — thanks to Galifianakis’ spot-on performance, which walks the tightrope between too weird and too pathetic.
“The Hangover” is the cinematic equivalent of a bunch of friends trading stories of crazy stuff they did while utterly drunk out of their minds. It’s packed with vulgarity and poor decision-making, and utterly hilarious in that “I’m glad that didn’t happen to me!” kind of way.

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