Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Movie Review: The Hangover

Galifianakis (w/baby), Cooper & Helms the morning after.

The Hangover is a B-List filled, low-brow comedy about three guys and the myriad of problems they face in Vegas as they figure out what exactly happened the night before at the bachelor party none of them can seem to remember. This movie is dumb, ridiculous and crass. Amazingly enough it’s also well paced, entertaining and funny. Juxtaposing the quirky comedy stylings of Zach Galifianakis with a pretty boy jerk (Bradley Cooper), a dorky dentist (Ed Helms) and a nondescript nice guy of a groom (Justin Bartha) makes for a few delightful odd couples. Director Todd Phillips (Old School, School for Scoundrels) takes a break from his usual classy fare to craft a raucous and juvenile comedy that is not for the squeamish or sensitive.

The story begins somewhere past the middle but before the end — as so many great films have (Reservoir Dogs, The Usual Suspects, and Raging Bull). Three friends face disaster — the groom is missing and a freaked out bride left confused on the other end of the phone, but that doesn't interfere with her pre-wedding ablutions, thank goodness. Flashback to a few nights before and after a particularly odd toast to start the bachelor festivities, suddenly it’s the next morning. Our heroes awake with their suite in extreme disarray — a smoking chair, a missing tooth, a chicken in the living room and a tiger in the bathroom are all the remains of the bizarre debauchery that took place. And, oh yeah, the groom is missing.

The men struggle to piece together the night’s events in order to find their missing friend and get him to the wedding on time. They are beyond hung-over, which makes everything so much harder. It’s the perfect set up for disjointed idiocy and non-sequitors. Sure it’s no Memento, but following the guys as they channel the Scooby Gang and gather clues about the the night before is fun and totally unbelievable.

Cooper as Phil, the jerky cool guy best friend of the groom, clashes nicely with Galifianakis’ Alan, the grossly abnormal brother of the bride who may or may not have some pedophilic tendencies. Stu, the nice guy dentist who looses a tooth but finds his spine somewhere along the way is aptly played by Ed Helms of NBC's The Office. And there’s the groom (Bartha), but you already know he’s not really in the picture much. Funny, he's not really missed much either.

This flick is about the boys, no departure from the standard buddy comedy there. According to Hollywood, men are often idiots. Idiots do dumb things that make wacky plots possible; therefore ridiculous comedies like The Hangover are often filled with men. The few women in the film are Stu’s shrill, nightmarishly controlling girlfriend ( Rachel Harris), the perfect bride-to-be (Sasha Barrese), and the new mom/hooker with a heart of gold (Heather Graham). Graham is infectiously chipper as Jade, the hot hooker and funny lady Harris actually made me wince as she verbally abuses poor Stu. But, it is no surprise that a film about a bunch of men on a bachelor party trip in Vegas lacks enriching and positive female characters. That’s just not really the point of the movie.

What makes The Hangover more than just a slightly offensive foray into familiar territory is Galifianakis and his off putting, awkward, surreal comedy. Galifianakis is enough to make this ill-fated Vegas adventure flick into something a tad more sophisticated. Add Mike Tyson covering Phil Collins, graphic old man nudity and a Rain Man parody and you’ve got Phillips’ wonderfully problematic comedy.

If you find using profanities in front of an infant sporting BluBlockers amusing and if you are willing to check your brain at the door, The Hangover could provide an enjoyable, albeit blatant, waste of time. If nothing else, it’s most definitely Netflix queue worthy (save it now since The Hangover 2 is already in development). Sure The Hangover would probably be a better movie-going experience whilst consuming the alcoholic beverage of your choice, but due to a few gross parts it is not recommended for those currently suffering from an actual hangover.


The Hangover
Opens Friday, June 5
100 min
Dir.: Todd Phillips
Writ.: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, 2009 & Four Christmases, 2008 - but I swear the writing is actually pretty good for this flick.)
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Heather Graham, Justin Bartha w/ Jeffrey Tambor and Mike Tyson.

Rated R: Just for the credits alone. But also for stereotypical “dude” language featuring lots of “fucks” and “faggots”, some mild baby endangerment, pants free Zach Galifianakis, drug use, really terrible decision-making and a plucky naked dude with an even smaller wiener than the flasher in Observe and Report – like invisible. Is this a new trend?