×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Hangover

Boys-gone-wild laff riot also clicks as a seriocomic beat-the-clock detective story.

With:
Phil - Bradley Cooper Stu - Ed Helms Alan - Zach Galifianakis Doug - Justin Bartha Jade - Heather Graham Tracy - Sasha Barrese Sid - Jeffrey Tambor Mr. Chow - Ken Jeong Melissa - Rachel Harris Mike Tyson - Himself Black Doug - Mike Epps

The trailers and TV spots suggest it’s just another beer-and-boobs, party-hearty farce, but “The Hangover” is surprisingly clever as well as R-rated rowdy. At once raucously free-wheeling and meticulously contrived, pic satisfies as a boys-gone-wild laff riot that also clicks as a seriocomic beat-the-clock detective story. Reviews and word-of-mouth could help this profanely funny comedy exceed expectations and achieve the status of breakout hit. Homevid biz should be equally impressive after a leggy summertime theatrical run.

Helmer Todd Phillips (“Old School,” “Road Trip”) grabs attention right from the get-go with an edgy-funny prologue that triggers an extended flashback. It’s a smart move, in that the vaguely foreboding intro adds an intriguing undercurrent to the comedy in otherwise ordinary (if not generic) expository scenes.

Two days before he ties the knot with his rich and gorgeous fiancee, blandly affable Doug (Justin Bartha) takes off for a brief Las Vegas sojourn with three groomsmen: His two best buddies — Phil (Bradley Cooper), a cynical and sardonic high school teacher, and Stu (Ed Helms), a dentist usually kept on a tight leash by his nagging girlfriend (a truly monstrous Rachel Harris) — and Alan (Zach Galifianakis), Doug’s future brother-in-law, a lumpy lunk who’s all too eager to befriend and belong.

Even with odd-man-out Alan along for the ride, the bachelor-partiers enjoy a wild night of booze-fueled revelry in Sin City. The next morning, however, three of them awaken in their posh hotel suite with only the haziest of memories about the previous evening’s events, and no explanation at all for the snarling tiger in their bathroom and the crying baby in their closet.

Worse, they have no earthly idea what happened to the inexplicably missing Doug.

Exhibiting an ingenuity one might not expect from the same writers who gave us “Four Christmases” and “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” scripters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore provide one uproarious pay-off after another as the groomsmen frantically scramble to retrace their steps so they can reconnect with the misplaced (or, quite possibly, waylaid) groom.

Their circuitous journey brings them in contact with, among others, Taser-wielding cops, angry Asian gamblers, a perky stripper (a chipper Heather Graham) with newly forged ties to Stu, and an unexpectedly equanimous but not infinitely patient Mike Tyson (played, in a bold stroke of casting, by Tyson).

Early on, it’s revealed that the revelers weren’t merely drunk, they were drugged while cutting an antic swath through the Vegas night world. Oddly enough, that’s just enough to anchor the pic in something like real-world logic, even as the plot takes ever more outlandish twists and turns. In fact, it’s tempting to read “The Hangover” as a wild-and-crazy spin on a scenario that would have been entirely suitable for a deadly serious ’40s film noir.

The humor is unapologetically raunchy — a closing-credits photo montage includes some borderline NC-17 naughtiness — and sporadically brutal. Helmer Phillips sustains an overall tone of anything-goes swagger that he neatly subverts with steadily mounting desperation and ego-deflating humiliations. Throughout it all, however, Cooper, Helms and even Galifianakis (whose character comes closest to caricature) remain sufficiently disciplined to refrain from going too far over the top.

Bartha does well in a thankless role, but he’s simply not visible long enough to make as much impact. On the other hand, Ken Jeong makes the absolute most of his limited screen time as an effete antagonist whose mincing trash talk likely will be quoted extensively by the pic’s fans.

Lenser Lawrence Sher does an excellent job of subtly enhancing the sense of danger lying just below the comic surface. Other tech credits are fine. Jokey references to “Rain Man” and “A Beautiful Mind” are amusing, but not nearly as funny as the pic’s self-aware reference to the cliched notion that there’s nothing as hilarious as a pratfall by a fat man.

The Hangover

Production: A Warner Bros. release and presentation in association with Legendary Pictures of a Green Hat Films production. Produced by Todd Phillips, Dan Goldberg. Executive producers, Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, William Fay, Scott Budnick, Chris Bender, J.C. Spink. Co-producers, David A. Siegel, Jeffrey Wetzel. Directed by Todd Phillips. Screenplay, Jon Lucas, Scott Moore.

Crew: Camera (Technicolor), Lawrence Sher; editor, Debra Neil-Fisher; music, Christophe Beck; music supervisors, George Drakoulias, Randall Poster; production designer, Bill Brzeski; supervising art director, Andrew Max Cahn; art director, A. Todd Holland; set decorator, Danielle Berman; costume designer, Louise Mingenbach; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS/SDDS), Lee Orloff; assistant director, Jeffrey J.P. Wetzel; casting, Juel Bestrop, Seth Yanklewitz. Reviewed at AMC Studio 30, Houston, May 20, 2009. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 99 MIN.

With: Phil - Bradley Cooper Stu - Ed Helms Alan - Zach Galifianakis Doug - Justin Bartha Jade - Heather Graham Tracy - Sasha Barrese Sid - Jeffrey Tambor Mr. Chow - Ken Jeong Melissa - Rachel Harris Mike Tyson - Himself Black Doug - Mike Epps

More Film

  • Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron.

    Charlize Theron Could Win Second Oscar for Playing Megyn Kelly in 'Bombshell'

    Charlize Theron walked on stage before a screening of “Bombshell” at the Pacific Design on Sunday night and announced to the crowd, “I’m about to s— myself.” The Oscar winner had good reason to be nervous. The screening of the Jay Roach-directed drama about the fall of Fox News boss Roger Ailes was the first [...]

  • Abominable Animated Movie

    Vietnam Pulls DreamWorks’ 'Abominable' Over Contested Territorial Claims

    Vietnam has banned DreamWorks Animation’s new co-produced feature “Abominable” from its cinemas due to a scene involving a map that depicts China’s contested territorial claims in the South China Sea. The move comes as U.S. entertainment firms like the NBA, Disney and gaming firm Activision Blizzard are under intense fire from US fans, activists and [...]

  • The Captain

    China Box Office: 'The Captain' Flies to $340 Million After Two Weeks on Release

    Patriotic thriller “The Captain” held on to the top spot at the Chinese box office for the second weekend, again leading from propaganda omnibus “My People, My Country.” “The Captain,” also known as “The Chinese Pilot” earned $34.9 million according to consultancy Artisan Gateway, for a two-week cumulative of $343 million. The cumulative for “People,” [...]

  • CGV movie theatre Seoul South KoreaCGV

    Korean Law To Limit Film Releasing Monopolies

    The Korean government is to make it illegal to show a single film on more than 50% of screens nationwide. The move is intended to prevent “screen monopolies by blockbuster films” and to “address unfair competition practices in the film industry.” The Ministry of Culture announced on Monday that it will revise the existing Promotion [...]

  • Jason Flemyng, Casting Director Lucinda Syson

    Jason Flemyng, Lucinda Syson Launch Film and TV Indie The Kernel Factory (EXCLUSIVE)

    Jason Flemyng, fellow actor Ben Starr, casting director Lucinda Syson, and finance expert Cristiano D’Urso are opening The Kernel Factory, a new U.K.-based film and TV indie. Flemyng has a long list of movie credits including “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” and Guy Ritchie’s “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking [...]

  • Hache

    ‘Hache’ Creator, Director Discuss Netflix’s Next Spanish Original, Dropping Nov. 1

    MADRID — On Nov 1 Netflix will drop its fifth Spanish original series, 1960’s-set drug smuggling drama “Hache,” produced by Madrid’s Weekend Studio for the platform. Created by Verónica Fernández and directed by Jorge Torregrossa (“La vida inesperada,” “Cocaine Coast,” “Velvet Collection”), “Hache” tells the story of Helena (Adriana Ugarte), a prostitute who ends up [...]

  • Argentina Film Lab

    Argentina to Build Country’s First Film Restoration Laboratory in Buenos Aires

    Argentina’s Instituto Nacional de Cinematografia y las Artes Audiovisuals (INCAA) and the Ministry of Culture of the City of Buenos Aires will partner to build Argentina’s first laboratory of film preservation. Minister of Culture Enrique Avogadro and INCAA president Ralph Haiek signed the agreement which will see Buenos Aires’ Pablo Ducrós Hicken Film Museum in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content