We’ve all had that night. The one where the wreckage in the morning is evidence of a night to remember, but no one actually does. Oft times vulgar, but always fearless Todd Phillips’ new laugh a minute comedy, “The Hangover,” hints at enough debauchery to scare the Bible Belt into excommunicating the entirety of Las Vegas, but that’s why they call it Sin City.
When three men (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zack Galifianakis) lose their buddy, Doug (Justin Bartha), during his bachelor party things get way out of hand. Easy enough set up, and while the plot takes the comedy in some interesting directions, the film hinges mostly on the interplay between the three leads. There is enough chemistry between Cooper, Helms, and Galifianakis to put Pfizer out of business.
Most things in this picture are pretty cliche and by the numbers, but they still work. Ed helms is Stu, the obviously uptight guy; Bradley Cooper is Phil, the obviously handsome guy; and Zack Galifianakis is Alan the obviously weird guy. The reason that this all flies is that they don’t just act those roles, they are those roles without question. Like a three headed dragon of mayhem they take Vegas by the short hairs and hold on for dear life.
During his career Todd Phillips has become a master of misguided virility, and where he lacks in innovation he makes up for in laughs. Using Mike Tyson as an actual character in the film is truly hilarious, and the final photo montage over the credits is worth the price of admission. He keeps the action moving at a quick enough clip as to never give the audience time for their suspension of disbelief to catch up. Though the search for Doug is fantastical Phillips manages to keep the tone grounded enough for the laughs to pack a bigger punch.
There are some missteps. An early subplot involving Alan’s implied pedophilia is dropped like a hot potato, which is probably for the better. The villain played by the ubiquitous Ken Jeong is confusing to say the least. He infuses his character with a questionable homosexuality that comes off a bit tasteless and unfunny.
The women in the film fare much worse than their male counter parts in the cliche archetype department. There is the concerned fiance (Sasha Barrese), the over bearing bitch (Rachael Harris), and the lovable hooker (Heather Graham). None of them are given any real weight.
But in the end it is much less about the women than it is about the little children inside them men. We all know that when those little children are let out to play the results can be disastrous or disastrously funny. Here, thanks to some deft comedic acting, a good script, and some strong directing chops “The Hangover” is the latter.
El Luchador Rating: 4 out of 5 (4 out of 5)
Review By: Paul S. Myers (a.k.a. El Luchador)