February 15, 2010

Rabid Rewind: The Hangover

Title: The Hangover
Starring: Brad Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Heather Graham
Directed by:
Released: 2009
Genre: Comedy

What is it about Las Vegas that for the last decade or so the entertainment industry has been promoting the hell out of it? Is it purely a matter of lobbying Hollywood to market Sin City for them? Well, when that awful Ashton Kutcher film, What Happens in Vegas, hit theaters with a resounding thud I thought the whole idea of setting a lackluster story there had jumped the shark. Hollywood had become bored with Vegas. Then, I caught wind of yet another Vegas themed movie coming out called The Hangover. I thought, oh boy, here we go again.

Then I saw the trailer.

Dammit, I was interested. What got me was the idea that it was a balls-to-the-wall, male-oriented comedy, starring a couple of comedians (Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis) I found really funny. It had potential.

What I didn't quite realize was the popularity this movie would achieve. "The best comedy of 2009." That's the kind of praise--or hype--this movie was getting. I'm inclined to agree too. It's at least in the top three.

The premise starts out with such a well-worn plot you'd swear it was doomed to fail. A groom-to-be and his three best friends go on a road trip, their last hurrah before marriage claims another bachelor's life. When they get to Vegas they toast what will be a memorable night, but the film cuts quickly to the morning after where three of them (minus the groom-to-be) wake up in their ravaged penthouse with no idea how Ed Helms lost a tooth, how a tiger got into the bathroom, or how a baby ended up in the closet.

What follows is a harried pursuit for their missing friend as they try to piece together what the hell happened to them. Like I said, it had all the tell-tale signs of an American Pie sequel for thirty-somethings. It worked though. Brad Cooper plays the slightly detestable bad boy with a heart of gold to perfection. A leading man in future films? I'm not convinced, but he did hit a high note in this role. He's complimented by razor sharp timing from Ed Helms and his shifts between timidity with an overbearing girlfriend and his frenzied panic when knee-deep in their dilemma. Then there's Zach Galifianakis who plays the oddball brother-in-law-to-be with such effortless style, you'd swear he really was that weird.

The movie can seem to some as little more than a series of comedic sketches strung together by a precarious plot that ultimately has a anticlimactic resolution. I forgave that part of the movie, however, because I was laughing too hard most of the time to be too critical. The Mike Tyson cameo was pretty good, but the ??? appearance as a crime boss was stellar and stole the show. And the only letdown in the whole movie was the ending, since the roller coaster ride had so many gimmicks through the middle of the film, the last fifteen minutes felt like a slow descent back to the ground level.

I'm going to keep my fingers crossed for the sequel, which is apparently being filmed sometime this year, and is set for 2011 I think. I'm unsure how it can make par with this movie, and who can blame me. I loved American Pie when it hit theaters a decade ago, but the sequels tired out the franchise very quickly, and now the original just isn't as funny as it used to be. There's a piece of me that worries Hollywood could do the same to The Hangover.


  1. I agree with this review, and I think your critique style is admirable. Well paced and on target.
    As for the film, I think the thing I delighted in most was the edginess it exuded. I don't think a sequel can succeed without wearing out the tread.

  2. True. I just hope the sequel doesn't kill the original.