The Hangover
“Yeah, I think we had something to drink last night.”


Golden Mug

NOMINEE:
Song (“Stu’s Song” by Ed Helms and Todd Phillips)

Theatrical Release Date: 06/05/2009
Director: Todd Phillips
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Heather Graham, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha, Jeffrey Tambor, Mike Tyson, Ken Jeong, Rachael Harris, Rob Riggle

Having been a part of a bachelor party set in Las Vegas, “The Hangover” seemed like something right up my alley. None of us were apprehended by the police, no one stole Mike Tyson’s tiger, and we didn’t find a baby in the hotel room in the morning – so there are some key differences between the film and my reality. The more I think of it, however, I’m not sure which party I would have preferred to attend …

Todd Phillips’ “The Hangover” sets Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms and Justin Bartha loose on Sin City. Bartha is about to take the plunge and it’s up to his rag-tag group of friends and future brother-in-law to make sure his last night of freedom isn’t wasted … or legal (which is sort of the same thing).

Because this is a comedy, being able to describe much of it without spoiling things is difficult so let me just say that the humor in the film can best be described as “wrong”. Whether it’s a car door hitting a baby, a naked Asian man wielding a crowbar, tasers to the genital region and face, or Zach Galifianakis’s obsession with Bradley Cooper and court order to stay a certain distance from schools, most of the comedy derives from watching these people do and say things that “cross the line” … which tends to make me happy because my mind tends to live on that side of the line.

All of the actors do a nice job of hitting the appropriate notes to create a very odd ensemble. Bartha’s the straight man, Cooper’s the bon vivant, Helms’ is the goody two-shoes and Galifianakis is a few sandwiches short of a picnic. Together, they form an unholy union that’s perfectly equipped to take on what Las Vegas can dish out.

Not everything is perfect, however. I did have some issues with Heather Graham as the stripper with a heart of gold. Her ditzy spin on things felt right in some scenes and too fake in others. There’s a small problem of keeping the momentum of the film going as it nears the end but nothing so significant as to deride your overall enjoyment. It helps that the soundtrack is appropriately loaded with rock and remixed hip-hop, not quite being anything I actually own but tunes that would get me in the right mood for some debauchery on the strip.

If you don’t like seeing people getting completely hammered out of their minds and doing the dumbest / most impractical things possible, this probably isn’t for you. The jokes are raunchy and morality is the furthest thing from the minds of our protagonists. The plot here is about as thin as an Olsen sister and the enjoyment derived from watching this is in reveling in the characters’ substance-fueled all-nighter.

The bottom line is that if you’re a fan of guys pulling off Vegas in a no holds barred, over-the-top manner, “The Hangover” is just the ticket. The humor is demented, some of the ladies lose their tops and Mike Tyson does indeed still have “it”. A 4 out of 5, this one’s going on my DVD shelf for repeated viewing. And make sure to stay firmly seated when the film ends because the cinematic slide show that follows is perhaps the best credits sequence I’ve ever seen … if need be, tell those idiots in front of you who stood up to sit back down or face the consequences.