Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Heather Graham, Sasha Barrese, Jeffrey Tambor, Ken Jeong, Rachael Harris, Mike Tyson, Mike Epps
R for pervasive language, sexual content including nudity, and some drug material.
Buy on DVD
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Murphy’s Law states “anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. It may not be a truism, but it’s provided grist for the motion picture comedy since the beginning of the medium itself. So, it’s no surprise that The Hangover mines the adage for everything it’s worth.
Doug Billings (Justin Bartha) is getting married. But, for his bachelor party, he and two friends (plus his soon-to-be brother-in-law) have planned an excursion to Las Vegas where they can drink and gamble and then return home for the wedding. While the hijinks and incidents don’t get started until they reach Vegas itself, there are a few comic moments as we’re introduced to the film’s array of characters:
Phil Wenneck (Bradley Cooper) is a high school teacher whose marriage isn’t going the way he would like. Stu Price (Ed Helms) is a dentist whose wife is an overly controlling nag. Alan Garner (Zach Galifianakis) is the brother-in-law who isn’t exactly in possession of all of his marbles.
After arriving in Vegas, the film flashes forward to the next morning where three of the men awake in a ransacked room with a series of mysteries to explore including why their friend Doug is nowhere to be found. The film hits upon nearly every possible outrageous outcome it can as it slowly draws these three mismatched men on a journey of mishaps and misdemeanors.
Although the film has one shocking, well thought out plot device at work, it is little more than a series of pratfalls, comic violence and epic mid-life crises. They corral tigers, count cards, rescue kidnapped compatriots, tangle with Mike Tyson, and a whole array of other events. The movie bounces from scene-to-scene without giving the audience a chance to catch its breath, though not always in a positive way.
The Hangover is like a Judd Apatow film except that it deals with fewer important issues. Will Wenneck go back to his wife? Will Stu put up with his? Will the whole adventure affirm or destroy everything Doug feels about marriage? They aren’t great questions and really aren’t that important in the totality of the film. Each question and answer make for a small segment of the film, just enough to give the outlandish events of the film a purpose for being.
I’m not going to say I didn’t enjoy parts of the film. I’m not going to say I didn’t laugh at a number of scenes. However, I won’t say that I really learned anything or cared much for the characters. How can you love characters as strange or narrowly drawn? The crux of the film, finding Doug, is the only element of the story that’s really worth the effort, but with the cliched execution, you won’t wonder for more than a few minutes whether they will find him or not, because you know the answer. With this kind of film, the answer is always the same.
This film obviously appealed to a lot of people. It’s smarter than most idiotic comedies out there and the performances aren’t as abjectly terrible. The Hangover plays more like the fun party the night before its titular event.
April 28, 2010