Review: The Hangover (2009)



Todd Phillips
Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
100 min.
Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Heather Graham, Sasha Barrese, Jeffrey Tambor, Ken Jeong, Rachael Harris, Mike Tyson, Mike Epps
MPAA Rating
R for pervasive language, sexual content including nudity, and some drug material.

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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.
Review Written
April 28, 2010
Review Archive
The Hangover


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  1. I dont even think you watched the whole film. Stu isn’t married, that is his girlfriend of three years. And at the end of the film they have a huge falling out and he beaks up with her. So to answer your question… No Stu will not put up with his girlfriend

    1. I watched the entire thing, but the way they acted with each other, it almost seemed like they were married.

  2. It’s people like you that make rotten tomatoes a bad website to look at before going to a movie

    1. Since you probably already saw the film and have made your comment based on the fact that you like the film, then my opinion will have no bearing on whether or not you will see the film. I would even posit that you had decided to see The Hangover II without having read a single review and most fans of the original won’t even consult a film review before going to see it. Further, I would have little doubt that people who would enjoy a film like The Hangover would not approach a film critic for advice on whether or not to see the film as they more often than not will disagree vehemently with anything a critic says about films in general and therefore would already devalue their opinion.

      1. Well said, Wesley. The only job a film critic has is to inform their readers what they personally felt about a film. Just because a critic likes something, doesn’t mean the movie is good. Vice versa. I thoroughly adore Roger Ebert and his undeniably genuine love for the movies. His reviews are insightful, witty and a pleasure to read. However, I disagree with him all the time. He strongly dislikes some of my favorite films (The Untouchables, Full Metal Jacket, Raising Arizona, Blue Velvet to name a few), but I certainly don’t disregard his reasons why he felt they were terrible. It’s subjective and personal tastes do not always coexist between a reviewer and his reader. The reviewer may point out things a reader might not have noticed, or they may turn them towards a little known film which otherwise would’ve remained unknown to them. It’s a sad, pathetic, demeaning and revealing thing about one’s character to insult a critic just because they disagree with their opinion. After all, life would become so boring if we all felt the same way about everything.

  3. I saw it some time ago. It took me this long to get to posting the review (as you’ll note, I wrote the review back in April)…and I didn’t review it immediately after watching it either, but I did watch it earlier this year, not last year…

  4. It seriously took you this long to watch “The Hangover”???

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